Baseball, Hotdogs, Apple Pie & Chevrolet

Suzann Darnall

With the dark clouds of sorrow from the Aurora tragedy hanging over our nation and the gathering storm about gun control hovering on the far horizon, I thought we needed a little summer sunshine peeking through the gloom. So, I am going to try and avoid politics and societal ills to tell of hot fun in the summertime. To share some of the things about life that is true and good. Whether adult or child there is much to enjoy in the lazy days of summer.

My husband, Pete, is an assistant principal in his second career, so summer is an important time to us. A time for getting projects done, spending time with family, and doing some roaming about. We have been blessed this past week to do many things as a couple and as a family. There have also been some little moments of personal joy.

On Tuesday my husband and I went to a minor league baseball game with our oldest daughter, her husband, and their three daughters. It was such fun to sit there with our loved ones. Enjoying the fresh air, the family time, some good food (although maybe not the healthiest), and just generally having fun.

There were friendly, though unknown, people all around us. People we got to share a bit of together time with, although we may never meet again. My daughter and son-in-law help with their church group's summer teen girls' camp and when one of the ladies sitting in front of us heard this, she starting sharing and teaching camp songs from her youth to my daughter. They both had a delightful time and did lots of laughing.

As the camp song demos were taking place, I was joking and discussing weight loss with other members of the group of folks in up in front of us. My husband and I were watching our older granddaughters, Logan and Mckayla, sit with their gloves hoping to catch a foul ball, while the youngest granddaughter, Tabitha, tried to figure out how to whistle using her fingers in her mouth, 'cause the lady behind us was doing it that way.

And, honestly, is there anything tastier than a ball park hot dog? Unless it is one made at home, West Virginia Southern country style, with chili, cole slaw, diced onion, mustard, and some grated cheese? That is kind of a mainstay of summer celebrations for our family. Especially with some ice cold root beer or even a root beer float.

I started off this summer by baking my husband an apple pie. An actually somewhat healthier apple pie, but still quite delicious. It reminded me of many summertime visits with friends and family over the years, and even some family trips or activities. Most of the women, and some of the men, in my family, are quite good cooks. So home-baked goods were always a part of family reunions and get-togethers. I remember eating some very good pies over the years and many of them were apple. Some made with apples grown right on the person's home place.

I also remember a fun summer trip when my family and I discovered a new, to us anyway, and very tasty apple! It was out in the near desert area of California along Interstate Highway 5 at a little roadside produce stand. We saw these very pretty apples that were sort of pink and green, and very shiny. They were called Gala. They quickly became one of our family favorites both for eating and using in baking.

In that trip, as in others, we were in our Chevy van. Over the years we have owned three Chevrolets: two Corvettes and the one conversion van. We also owned two other vans, a Dodge van camper and a Japanese Toyota mini-van, in earlier years. Of course there have also been numerous other vehicles as well, but these are the ones that most came to mind when thinking of summer fun.

We owned the van camper when our girls were little and we lived in Southern California. One of our favorite things to do back then was pack up and head off to a drive-in movie on a summer evening. I'd fix a simple supper of hotdogs, chips, and sodas using the propane stove and fridge in the camper. Then, we'd eat some watermelon or make some fresh popcorn right on the stove. It was so fun to watch our girls sit in the open door of the camper, spitting their watermelon seeds on the ground. And, later, seeing their sweet little faces in sleep as they curled on the folded out bed, too tired to finish watching the movie. Good memories.

Now the sweet little faces I most connect with my current van are those of my most recent Great Danes: Chisum, Chief, Dallas, Rio, and now, Blue. I brought four of these puppies to my home in this van. I use it almost weekly to take my sweet Blue for his Monday drive to the produce shop. My husband and I also use it to pull our little camping trailer, as well as for trips to the beach and the river. Very much a summertime necessity!

But, there is more to summer than baseball, hotdogs, apple pie, and Chevrolets. There are small joys like seeing a young spike point buck out having breakfast in my backyard amidst the playground equipment. Or finding a little frog sitting outside the well house when going over to turn on water for the freshly seeded lawn area . . . and so the many cardinals can do their daily drinking and bathing. The funny little cardinals that fuss when you don't turn on their morning water source.

I am greatly blessed to live a life filled with joy and fun to counter-balance the occasional tragedies and sorrows that brush up against my little bit of the world. As are all of us. So, take a little time out of the next few weeks to revel in some of the All-American joys of hot fun in the summertime! Watch a bit of the Olympics and root for Team USA. Go to a local baseball game. Grill some hotdogs and maybe try them WV style! Teach your kids or grandkids to swim. Bake or buy and apple pie and serve it to friends and family with some frosty sweet vanilla ice cream during a warm summer evening out on the back porch. Stop by a vintage car museum and check out some of the great Chevrolets of the past. Listen to the fabulous music of the Beach Boys. Or, do whatever it is that says "summer" to you and yours. But, make a few new memories to savor and share. God bless America and God bless all y'all.

© Suzann C. Darnall, JULY 2012, San Marcos, Texas

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