Summers, those long hazy hot days between Memorial Day and Labor Day, have surely been my favorite, freedom-ridden, frollicking-filled prime times of my life.
There simply isn’t nothing for it, but I obligate myself to jam-cramming every minute with every possible adventure my brain could possibly concoct.
My grandfather, retired judge and man of substance and means, he gave my my head, saying, “Boys will be boys…and Amelia will be, too.” Grandmother cared not a whit for that little saying, puffing and harrumphing each time Grandfather gave me a free pass. She’d likely put her thumb to her mouth, then smooth my renegade brows.
I did despise that so.
But when, with a chuck and a grin, she’d send me off to do whatever I was wont, to whomever I wanted, well, it seemed a small price to pay. I did so revel in my summers out on their farm.
But I always swore I’d not subject any offspring I sprung to that particular indignity, no sir–ee–bob!.
Having one of those minds, I can recollect nearly every day, every cockamamey plan, every slice of seed-speckled watermelon of every summer stay.
One summer, building was my labor of choice. Built a tiptop treehouse. Built a ladder first, though, then once up, I pulled that sucker apart rung by rung and used the sections and slats to fortify the platform, then built a second level up so high, the wind waved the floor side to side.
Grandmother sighed. Grandfather chuckled.
Built a rack for my bike to sit up in. Built a leanto on the barn to house the rack for my bike to sit up in.
Then I took my bike apart, piece by piece, laid out neat as a pin on the dusty musty floor of the hayloft where I’d hoisted it. Then piece by piece, I put in back together. Then I tied it to the hayrope, then wrapped the hayrope ’round me, then swung her out the uptop hinged hatch. Failed to check the age and strength of the hayrope, and oversight i made but once. I flew only a second or two, but my oh my, it was worth the bruised bum and sprained wrist I endured.
Grandmother insisted on a sling. Well, that lasted till I was out the door.
Mechanical doings, though, they fell together in perfect order for me. I found my head wrapped around gears and engines and belts right well. Rebuilt that bicycle, improving the gears and even added a small engine to give me speed. That it also scorched the calves of my skinny legs only spurred me to pedal all the faster. Grandfather and his workmen allowed me a birdseye view of tractor maintenance. Even helped change the oil once or twice. Built Grandmother a conveyer chute to carry her laundry from the upstairs bedrooms to the backporch where the ladies had the wringer. Sadly, it took up too much of the stairway and no one except rail thin me could pass by. Then, I built a trap. Built a trap for run-away chickens. Grandmother’s straying chickens were constant nuisances and I reckoned doing my part to right this torment might give her a modicum of joy, and me a modicum of peace. I did give her such a headache.
And this contraption, this contraption worked like a charm. Not the usual rat trap baited with cheese and a trap door, mine had gears and chains, whirring when the door closed behind the errant chicken, then ding dinging a bell when the chicken put its weight on the springed and sprung floor.
I won’t say this invention, while clever, was my finest, for the purpose for which it was made lacked portent. Chickens, stray or not, had no reason to be, other than perhaps scrambled eggs with cheese and Sunday dinner.
Simply, they could not, or would not, fly. So what then, I ask, was the point?