Only one week until it’s officially summer. The last few days of school are just ahead, neighborhood pools are opening one by one and I bought my first watermelon of the season yesterday. I’ll admit it tasted a little like cold, crunchy cardboard. Maybe I’m trying to rush things a bit.

The Plum Nellie Days were in Branson this last weekend. There’s an ugly dog competition, a craft show, a street dance and the crowning of the King and Queen. It’s quite the local tradition all in celebration of summer almost here … it’s plum nearly summer or plum nellie. Until I learned the history I thought Nellie was someone famous.

This time of year is like none other. What can beat the feeling of walking out of school on the last day or putting on Coppertone for the first time since last summer? The peacefulness of listening to the crickets and frogs at night is like a tranquilizer. It helps balance the dread and horror of putting on a swimsuit after the long winter. About the first of July the shock does wear off a little.

Summertime has such distinctive smells; sunscreen, freshly cut grass, rain on hot pavement, charcoal and food on the grill and chlorine. Maybe summer is so special because volumes of our deep childhood memories are made during June, July, and August.

When I was growing up we spent most days at the pool. I went to day camp for two weeks and spent a week with my grandparents on the farm every year. One summer I learned that not all chickens for dinner come from the grocery store and discovered where the saying, “Running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off” came from.

So hang on, it’s almost here. One week and counting. Summer just makes me smile. Maybe the real reason is … I get to wear flip flops for three months straight.

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