Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of A Canadian Summer

“Mom…what can I dooooo?”  My 9-year-old whine carried well through the screen door.

“What do you want to do?” she’d reply.

“Oh…gads!  You always say that…  There’s nuthin’ to do!”  My brain idled at half-speed.  As much as I had longed for the endless discoveries of summer, when the sun threw the mercury up that tiny glass tubing in our thermometers, all parts of me moved into slow motion.

Mom had donned a simple cotton dress signalling a scorcher.  Her movements revolved around page turning or rolling four cigarettes at once in her mega-roller.  Thankfully, she clung to the  coolness offered by the meager insulation of our two-storey home.  No garden weeding today.

“You could always water the garden…”  She had a knack for reading my thoughts.  Sitting on the steps of the porch, I moaned inwardly and pretended I didn’t hear.

I whispered, “We need a swim, Scamp.”

Scamp, my border collie whose example taught me how to stay buoyant in a dog paddle, laid in the shade of the one tree by our house.  Usually a coil of canine energy, he only panted.  Droplets of saliva fell off the end of his long pink tongue.  The only way to a swimming hole was by car or bicycle.  My brother, the strategist, had taken possession of the supposedly shared bicycle months ago and reveled in the art of being gone before I thought of putting in a bid.

Grasshoppers clicked their announcement of short flights to greener pastures apparently tired of endless dust.  Pods from the caragana hedge cracked audibly in the heat, tossing seeds with optimism of surviving a Canadian winter.  The air hung in a blanket of hot, non-refreshing dryness.

As an adult, I still create private pools for hornets who keep wasps away.

I found a container and filled it with water for Scamp.  The water slowly became a world of salvation to numerous other creatures.

First came the wasps.  Then, tiny ants.  They busied themselves in the splashed droplets left by Scamp’s erratic tongue lapping.

My crop of sunflowers, massive heads facing the sun, had begun to droop.  I carried pans of water to their roots and whispered a quick apology.

I remembered seeing a chrystalis in some bushes near the sunflowers.  I hunted until I found it.

I crouched into position to see what stage it had reached.

Many years later, I am mesmerized by this chrystalis with incredibly intricate and tiny feet – found in my foliage in British Columbia.

I had caught a butterfly climbing out of its cocoon the previous year.   This one was not ready.


“Come on, Scamp.  Let’s go to the slough.”  My dog and I trundled down to a swamp where many of us had built make-do rafts.  Long branches became the poles we’d use to push our rafts over green slime and endless displays of pond life.  I found a good size raft for Scamp and me, grabbed a pole and shoved off.

A swamp from Jasper, Alberta – not far from my childhood home.

Scamp stayed aboard until we reached an opening from the green scum that covered a large part of the water’s surface.  Then he slipped overboard for a swim.  “Ewww.  You’re not sleeping on my bed tonight, you mutt!”

I laid on my stomach and watched the life beneath me as the raft floated freely on the water.

Those days had to be captured in memory and burned into my upbringing.  The camera I carried was my brain.

As the sun headed west, a welcome breeze dictated the direction of my discoveries.   Questions rose with every observation and teased my curiosity.

After his swim, Scamp had obviously found a cool spot somewhere in the shade.  One word from me and I knew his smiley dog face would appear.

The thrill of discovering water lilies in bloom amongst the lily pads.

The king of the lily pads.

Hunger pangs reminded me it may be time to head home.   I poled back to my launch spot.

A pair snails thinking it was still spring.

“Where are you, Scamp?”  He came out of his cool grassy warren and we headed home.

“Hi Mom!” I yelled as I raced in the door and headed for the fridge.

“Where’ve you been?”

“I was out lookin’ for the rest of the kids.”

“Did you find them?”


“So what have you been doing?”


64 thoughts on “Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of A Canadian Summer

  1. The good old days…the things we all took so much for granted…never gave a second look or thought. How precious that period of time was back then. Never realized that we were living in a small slice of heaven. 🙂 Nice pics.

    • When I first stepped out onto one of those wobbly rafts, I thought my world would surely end. It was actually the beginning of my sense of independence and confidence. “I can do this.” Imagine a mother, today, hearing that her daughter was rafting alone at the age of nine. She’d likely have a fit. We did it all the time and our moms knew it. Mind you, I don’t think our mothers realized how deep that slough was…some kids fell in and found out.

  2. absolutely fantastic, just replace that with the beach and you have days and days of similar adventures, except there were 6 of us and i always had a little one with me.. but that lying on your belly just watching the water, And our camera was in our brains and we can still catch those images.. wonderful work.. c

  3. what a wonderful lazy stroll through your hot sunny days of childhood this was. The image of the chrysalis is one of the most stunning pictures I’ve ever seen. It was incredibly hot today and I wished there was more than 3 inches of water in the river bed. I would have gone in for a dip.

    • Aren’t the feet of that little chystalis amazing, Joss? I could not believe how stunning the little guy was. I still don’t know what it grew up to be, but as a crawler, it was dazzling.

        • One of my favourite spots outside is a stump by my woodshed. Depending upon the weather, I pick my time of day to go and sit. I watch incredible goings-on. After a career-full of brain, it’s immensely fulfilling to delight in the ordinary.

  4. Oh the last line was just as I recalled my own words on similar days with similar questions…just loved this post…I shall smile throughout the night because of it.

    • I’ve been thinking about you, my wandering friend. Hope the time has been healing for both of you.

      If you have Naomi Estment as a friend on Face Book, you’ll see she’s posted some incredible shots of CT. Wait, maybe it’s too soon for you to look!

      Granny, I’d love to spend a summer day with you on my turf!

  5. “Nuthin” indeed. With four kids in our family I could relate. “My brother, the strategist, had taken possession of the supposedly shared bicycle months ago and reveled in the art of being gone before I thought of putting in a bid.” So there were choices to make–go to the woods, ramble over the fallen tree we called “the ship”, look for dewberries in the field behind the house, climb a tree, sit in the tree fort, try to climb higher than I ever had before, hit tennis balls against the chimney, walk to a friend’s house, look for turtles, rabbit holes or bird’s nests careful to not interfere, gather sticks and make miniature cabins. Nothing indeed. Thank you for the visit to one of your young summers that transported me to one of mine.

    • Oh, I would have loved doing nothing with you, Georgette. One thing I never could do was swing so high that I went right around. The time I came close, the swing broke and I found out I couldn’t fly either. I knocked the wind out of myself and it seemed ages before I could finally take a breath again.

      • Oh my goodness, if kids had the wind knocked out of them nowadays they would swear they were dying and if they could gasp for any breath it would be “Call 911”. The memories you trigger. 🙂

    • I expect you would have some good ideas for adventures, Linda. Maybe we could have found some horses to ride bareback…”double dare you to jump on that black stallion over there!” 😀

    • Hi Nancy! I don’t know if the summer heebeejeebies every leave. It’s like the smell of September forever meaning “school” to me. Has Tigger adopted your mom yet?

  6. Great walk down memory lane! I wonder why it is — as kids we hated the “nothing to do” and as adults we have to schedule TIME for that, and if we are lucky, we actually have the downtime.

    • Hi Beverley – some scientific study found that males can, in fact, do nothing better than females. When asked what they are thinking, when they say “nothing” it really can be the truth.

        • Well, Beverley, I’ve heard different teachers say the best we can do with our minds is to observe what those thoughts are and let them go. In meditation, I use a technique of putting them in a boat to float away. After practice, they come less frequently and become less invasive. They float through, in the boat they go, and I concentrate on my breath.

          It does wonders for our health. Even though it seems too simple.

    • Flowers blow me away. Look at all the designs! Think of what it would be like if flowers in the world were only one type and design. We have endless shapes, sizes, colors and combinations to enjoy. I’m watching some small roses grow and bloom in my flower bed. A friend from Iowa sent a basket that included a tiny rose plant. I decided to try it outside and it’s growing faster than any weed. The blooms are dozens of little petals, each folded into an triangle, forming concentric circles around a pit of sturdy black stamen. Amazing engineering! Not one deformed or misdirected petal.

      Except…and maybe you’ll know why…no honeybees are visiting the blooms. Instead, they are hitting every dandelion I planned to clip. And probably won’t now!

    • Indeed I have. I had lunch with a friend recently who told me how guilty she feels when she is not actively engaged in some form of doing. Do artists have privilege over others? Have we learned the necessity of ridding ourselves of the do-bug so we can find ways to be doing nothing? How do Love, inspiration or other forms of creativity have a chance otherwise?

  7. Holy moly……..what amazing photos….. Don’t make me pick….

    And oh, the wonders of the simple!
    “nuthin’……” LOL I did nuthin’ today myself….and enjoyed every minute of it!
    Darnit that I didn’t have a Scamp to enjoy the nuthin’ with…..but I did have he-who-didn’t-miss-the-television! 😉

    It was an amazing bunch of moments rolled up into an afternoon!

    I’m thinking “do this more often”.
    I already do it on a regular basis–I was just looking for MORE! 😉

    • Sure beats going somewhere that charges lots so you think you must be having a good time. 😀

      Yep…you do this fairly regularly according to your posts. Way to live, Mel!

    • Victoria, I am full of appreciation for you… We are in the throes of learning the threads that are mainstays in blogging life, it seems. These particular stitches bob in and out. They hold. Thanks for being one of those threads.

  8. I’d forgotten those long summer days when we were allowed to roam about wherever we pleased, and swim without a lifeguard… I feel sorry for the kids these days. They can’t just say “Nuttin” because their every minute is supervised.
    I love your photos. The water lily is perfect. As is the frog.

    • I think those years set the groundwork for my independent spirit. When my friends were away at relatives or cottages, when there was no TV in my home yet and when I was tired of reading – out I went. I never knew where I was going so it was pointless for Mom to ask. And my older siblings certainly were not going to be saddled with a younger sister back in those days. Scary people didn’t come to small towns! They’d last about two minutes.

  9. I grew up near a swamp also…never a dull moment there! Always a turtle or snake of frog to find…and all the other critters that come for a drink. I loved that swamp!! It was such a peaceful and quiet place, unlike the house with all the people in it 😉
    Beautiful pictures of the joyful sights of summer.

    • And so you know, Anna! Ah ha! Another graduate of nothingness! No wonder your enthusiasm for nature. If we ever have a blogger’s meet-up, let’s vote for a swamp! 😀

  10. Loved my canadian summers, those week ends at the lake, playing kick the can until dark with friends. It seemed so easy back then. Lots of good memories

  11. How this resonates with my own childhood memories – as well as what I have seen in my own kids. “Nothing to do” is often more a child’s way of seeing things than reality – and a quest for contact for instance with parents. Kids never really run out of ideas, but might be stalled by hinders such as parents or lack of encouragement. Your venture into the wild garden and the swamp nearby is delightfully described. Lovely reading.

    • Thanks so much, Otto. I can tell by your comment that you relate very well. In fact, I have the impression you still do lots of a grown-ups version of “curious exploration” with your photography.

      I’ve been spending a lot of time outside and in the community so my blogging has been curtailed. I will be around to see what you’ve been up, my friend.

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