Reflections: Summer Lights/Summer Nights

Last night I happened to see the street light flicker on at the end of our street and for an instant I was eight years old again.  I closed my eyes and wished I could have that moment back . . .


I grew up when homes weren’t air-conditioned, people knew their neighbors, and kids rode their bikes everywhere.  On summer evenings my parents would cool off by settling in on lawn chairs in the back yard.  Occasionally the mosquitos became a nuisance so dad would gather some twigs and make a small fire in our old barbeque grill.  The smoke usually kept the bugs away.  My sisters and I would sit on an old blanket, sip lemonade and just watch that little fire send up sparks and smoke.  The only care I had in the world sitting around that little “campfire” was getting a mosquito bite.

Oftentimes we’d ask daddy if we could have a “starlight night.”  He would say as soon as a good one came along, he would take us.  We girls loved “starlight nights.”  The night would be pitch black, we’d all pile into the car, and drive to our small city park.  After walking to the big hill, we’d lie down on our backs and look up at the moonless sky.  Oh! The memories of reveling in the beauty and majesty of . . . just stars.  We named our own constellations (usually after ourselves!),  and named our own galaxies.  Sometimes, the beauty of the stars just left us quietly mesmerized.

The summer I turned eight I inherited my older sister’s bicycle.  Having the fashion sense of, well, an eight year old, I painted it a rather garish color resembling “buttercup yellow,” which I thought was magnificent.  Next, came handle bar tassels and clothespinned playing cards in the back wheel spokes.  I couldn’t wait to speed away and show off!

Mom, “Please be careful, honey. Don’t go too fast! Look both ways.”
Dad, “Make sure you’re home before the street lights come on!”
I zoomed off.

It only took a few blocks for me to hit gravel, skid, fall off my bike and skin my knees bloody.  But I wasn’t about to return home.  On I pedaled, ignoring the hurt and enjoying my newfound freedom.  All too soon I noticed the sun going down and headed for home, just as the streetlights were coming on.  I rounded the corner of our block and there was my daddy, standing in the glow of the street light, waving at me.  The image of him under that street light, waiting for me, will forever be imprinted on my mind and in my heart.

Later that night I snuggled down in bed, but not before peeking out my bedroom window.   Mom and Dad were sitting in the backyard around their little campfire in the barbeque grill, laughing about something.   As I laid down, I smiled at how sweetly my mom had cleaned up my scraped knees without  scolding me and  how safe I’d felt to see daddy under the street light.  Now as I was lying in bed I looked at the stars and wished for another “starlight night” very soon.

Join us this month as we celebrate reading together while making summer memories and creating family legacies.


Mary Byrne Kline




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