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Cherish the 'Summer'

You must think we have a library in our home the way I write about books. We don't. I just love the written word and how it affects my life. When my baby sister was born, I was a built-in mothers' helper in all things baby. We belonged to a book club all those years ago. A book arrived at our house at the time she was born simply entitled "Summer," by Alice Low, with illustrations by Roy McKie. It was my favorite book to read to my new baby-toy and her favorite book to hear.

As you might imagine, the book got lost over the years. When our daughter was young, I took her to a Lions' Garage Sale and we found a used copy of the book for a quarter. Needless to say, I was thrilled. We bought the book, brought it home, and read it until the cover came off and the pages fell out.

It was truly one of our favorite books because it relates all of the exciting and memorable things for kids to do in the summer. Of course, the children in the story have a dog who is adventurous and gets itself, as well as the kids, into lots of trouble.

As our family read the story, we would comment that things we were doing throughout our summer vacation were just like the kids in the story we loved so much. In fact, we would find ourselves making sure we did the things these kids did, just because then we knew we had enjoyed our summer to the fullest.

If you do not have a copy of the book, or are not able to locate one, let me tell you how these children made sure they had a wonderful, summer break. First of all, they ate huge slices of watermelon. They went skiing and biking, stopped for ice cream, and attended a magnificent fireworks extravaganza.

They cooled off in a front-yard sprinkler, swung high into the trees, and landed in a huge pile of hay. They caught butterflies, snorkeled in a lake, and attended a county fair. They watered the garden, complete with a water fight.

They roasted marshmallows over a fire, getting all gooey in the process. They went fishing, slept outside in a tent, and had a wonderful picnic. They played croquet and made a sand castle on the beach.

Finally, they stayed out late, brought jars to a field, and caught fireflies. They got a ride home from a farmer on his hay wagon as they thought about all the happy things that summer brings.

Doesn't this sound like a memorable book? My sister and I loved it more than 40 years ago and our kids have loved it, too. When we realized that our garage-sale copy was so dog-eared and wouldn't make it through another summer, our daughter gave me a new copy for Mother's Day.

The story is timeless. As adults, we must remember that the simple pleasures of life are not just for children. They are for all of us. When we enter into the joy and excitement that are so prevalent throughout the summer months, we experience the timelessness of the story, and our own childhood, all over again.

Take time this week to engage in some fun summer activities. Go on a picnic. Swing at the park. Walk on a beach in your bare feet. In other words, play. Take time to be a kid again.

I think one of the things I like best about this book is that it reminds me to be young-at-heart. It encourages me to let things go a little and spend time sitting and talking with my husband, our kids, or neighbors, enjoying a summer evening, watching the stars come out.

You can be sure I will be buying a copy of this simple, little book for each of our kids when they start their own families. It will be one of the surest ways for them to remember and cherish the summers of their childhood all throughout their lives.

Kate Soucheray is a Woodbury resident