Fireflies caught in Mason jars, chased barefoot. Cornhole played on plush lawns or basketball on your neighborhood net, the games ending only when the street lights came on. Hours spent shaping sandcastles on the beach, or digging holes just to watch with satisfaction as they filled with water from the bottom up.
And the food — oh, the food! Laid on tablecloths and served outdoors on picnic tables, summer barbecues are the ultimate joys of the season. Close your eyes and remember the tantalizing scent of charcoal as hot dogs blistered and split their skins on the grill. Burgers sizzling on the grates, flipped by someone wearing a “Kiss the Cook” apron. Ears of fresh corn, growing sweet inside charring husks as baked beans simmer equally slowly. The smacking of lips as rib meat is torn off the bone, then again as thick sauce is licked off the fingers. Then, finally, a hollow thwak as a ripe watermelon is broken open so that seed-spitting contests between cousins can commence.
Do you remember all of that?
I don’t. Although my experiences may have held vestiges of this American daydream, the details were a bit different.