Summer came quickly this year. Extended spring break for the state of Alabama turned into virtual life and quarantine being the optimal word for everyone, young and old.
Summer at our home in Scottsboro is spent soaking up each week-long visit we get with The Wizard. There are just not enough hours in the day or days in the week to eat all the Tiger’s Blood sno-cones, to play video games until our eyes burn, to stay up late and watch tv, to take long walks at night around the neighborhood.
And, like last summer, there was just not enough time to do all the things we wanted, but we made the best of it. COVID and quarantine may have taken our summer vacation to the beach, but it didn’t stop us from finding new hobbies.
Each day felt like a new adventure. A flood in our county caused major chaos and damage to the collection of library books at the Woodville Public Library, located in the oldest town in Alabama. While this journey is one for its own column one day, The Wizard spent many days traveling back and forth with me to Woodville as we shelved books and helped them get things back in order. He sure has a way with sweet, older ladies who kept him full of peanut butter crackers, candy and cokes.
Each morning the drive consisted of him persuading me to stop for iced coffee and then asking for “play a song” for me. The songs usually consisted of Fall Out Boy and most recently anything by Morgan Wallen, of which the latter I hope finds his whiskey glasses because having it on repeat is driving me crazy.
We worked the municipal election in Scottsboro. I would look up the person’s voter registration status in the computer while The Wizard would pull off a ballot and hand it and a black pen to the voter. “You take it over there and place it in the machine,” he would say, pointing to the far corner of the gym. Oh the things he was learning during that experience.
We tried to learn some first grade math and get ourselves ready for school, but adding nine plus nine was tough and might have resulted in a few tears. We had a birthday celebration with cake and a new remote control Mario car that scared the cats and entertained Leo for hours. We outgrew our clothes and our shoes and even our beloved tent that we slept in each night surrounded by stuffed animals and a rocket ship blanket.
We learned that I can not play Fortnite because it will make me vomit and that my ability to drive a car in Need for Speed is beyond hope. Not the Wizard. He knows more about both games than I could even dream to know. I suddenly know how my parents felt listening to me talk about Donkey Kong for hours on end. I have way more Fortnite knowledge that I like to admit.
The Wizard and his dad took up Saturday night trips to the Fort Payne Motor Speedway to watch dirt track racing. I took up those Saturday’s to stay home, clean the house, maybe drink a glass of wine and attempt to catch up on the journey of the Winchester Boys.
We yearned to watch hockey and I might have once gotten the Wizard to slip and say, “Roll Tide,” but he will never admit it - at least not publically. We slept in late, cooked dozens of biscuits slathered with both strawberry and grape jelly, and let our pjs be the appropriate clothing style for Saturday mornings. We washed our hands - oh how we washed our hands. We were mad at the “stupid Corona” and hoped things would just get normal for a day.
And just like that, it ended. Abruptly. Without warning. Surely there was one more day to soak in all the time, after all we still had memories to make. But no. No more Summer 2020. Suddenly weeks turned back into weekends and evening phone calls. Bedtime stories were replaced with goodbyes and kisses blown through a cell phone screen. My early mornings became silent prayers that no matter what would come his way that he would be covered by the mercy of God as he went and learned about all life had to offer. Our long weeks replaced with short weekends.
Summer, in her blaze of glory, with the breath of humidity, the wrappings of evening thunderstorms speckled with flashes of purple and blue lightning, the songs of cicadas and dances of fireflies, was gone.
We are now on to new adventures of first grade and for others a return to college while “Study Hall” taught by yours truly has taken up residence in the dining room from six to nine each night.
What a wild, fun, long summer it was.
Laura Pitts is a former Daily Mountain Eagle reporter. She now serves as director of the Scottsboro Public Library.