Treena Mielke – On The Other Side
Be careful what you wish for because you may just get it.
I remember saying, long before this heat wave crested to ridiculous heights, something like “I wish it would warm up, where is summer anyway?”
And then, even though I didn’t wish upon a star or anything silly like that, the very next day my wish came true.
It was hot, as in firecracker, burn the soles of your feet, hot.
It’s good — I guess.
I tell myself this as I drive home from work; salty sweat dripping from my forehead into my eyes. Driving in my car is similar to driving in a moving oven some days.
To feel the little breeze the air conditioning feebly spews out requires me to lay my face as close as possible to the nearest vent, which is cooler, but not really a safe driving practice.
Long, hot summer days; the kind of days we dream about all winter, are here. And, we should all be so happy. But, I, for one am not all that happy. I am, in fact, quite miserable.
It’s just so HOT!
I covered a delightful, fun and happy event at the new aquatic centre this week. Everyone was in a great mood, said nice things and smiled a lot. Congratulations, optimism and accolades were handed out like candy.
But, it was hot. Really, really hot.
And even as the formal speeches took place and the adults remained shrouded in conformity and tradition, and, of course, proper dress attire, I could see them glance at the cool, inviting water with more than a little longing.
And, so in my mind, I pushed them all in. And watched as they cavorted and laughed and used the spray guns on each other, and, in so doing, understood, without a doubt, the absolute, sheer delight of an outdoor swimming pool on a hot, hot summer day in Rimbey.
My fantasy conjured up a great photo op, but I resolutely pushed it aside, and took instead the real pictures of the real people involved.
And then we all went home.
But, when I drove home that night, all grouchy and hot and tired, I thought about the kids at the pool. And I thought about the kids that still, no doubt, live inside all of us, even politicians and reporters who photograph said politicians.
And, in spite of the mobile oven, I’m driving in, I smile and I think about the kid that hides inside of me.
When you are 10 years old and living in small town Alberta what do you do in the summer?
You go to the river. And that’s what I did. A lot.
The river was a brown ribbon flanked on either side by banks mostly covered with bush. There was a place in the river where it rounded a slight bend, and beyond the bend two huge spruce trees lay claim to the bank.
We laid claim to the place just before the trees and it became, in all my growing up years, our swimming hole.
I learned to swim in that muddy old river, my 10-year-old self dog paddling furiously to make it to the other side, and past the spot where I couldn’t touch the bottom.
After our swim, we would sit on a tiny little bit of sand and eat sandwiches that crunched of lettuce and little stray grains of sand and guzzle lukewarm Kool-Aid straight from a jar.
And while we sat there the horseflies would buzz around, and the sun would laugh mercilessly at us, and I’m pretty sure we were very poor.
But, I remember feeling ridiculously happy and quite rich actually for no other reason than I was a 10-year-old kid on a hot summer day and someone said, “Let’s go to the river.”
And we did!