An Ode to Summer, a guest post by Ellen Hagan

Every summer my family would pack up the station wagon (first the brown one and then the plusher blue one with soft carpet like seating) and we would drive the 800 miles from Bardstown, Kentucky to Long Beach Island, New Jersey. It was the place where my mother spent all of her summers and as a Jersey girl, she wanted us to feel the weight of saltwater, the wild waves of the Atlantic, taste fresh peeled shrimp and scallops from the bay and feel the joy of hours spent doing nothing but building sandcastles and riding waves. So, my brother and I would pile into the backseat with a paper bag full of penny candy and the car window (along with Billy Joel, Sam Cooke and the Labyrinth and Grease soundtracks) to keep us entertained. I released those car trips as much as boogey boarding and submerging myself under water while feeling the ebb and flow of the tides. It was the journey and the destination all at the same time.

I was learning to save summer – those delicious months between the end and start of the school year. Summer is for taking a break from the everyday. It is a time for reflection, play and even being a little bored – so that you can find out what you love most. How will you spend all of those beautiful and long hours? There were so many summers where I spent the days figuring out what to do next. Reading, watching TV, playing video games and board games with my friends, pulling out the massive video recorder and lip syncing and doing skits, listening to music, learning new dance moves. There were long days spent catching crawdads in the creek bed and working on our treehouse. Time in our sandbox and putting out mud cookies to pretend serve the next day. Long bike rides around the neighborhood and time getting lost in my mind and not even worrying about a way back home. I was discovering how to use my days in the best possible ways.