Riding in the gentle morning heat, tiny rocks fly up the tires and flick my bare legs. The sun is streaming down on us. Skidding to a stop by the field of giant rolls of yellow hay, then climbing through the low brush to find the perfect July berries. The sky is clear and blue against the golden fields which are lined by the lush, vibrant green trees that form a canopy over the main road. Thorns make tiny scratches on my hands and legs, and my fingers turn purple from the bursted drupelets. The thorns hurt too much, he tells me to stay back. How can he get through the thorns so quickly? He mustn’t be able to get hurt. Nothing can stop him. The woven wooden baskets are soon full of berries and a few tiny green bugs that live in them.
Before mounting our bicycles to ride home, we taste the tart, sweet berries and a million tiny seeds explode onto our tongues and get stuck between our teeth. We ride along a short bridge built over the creek. We carry our bicycles off the road, beneath the bridge, and stop for a short swim. Splashing through the cool water as it runs over smooth pebbles, calming and refreshing to sedate the midday heat. I splash him with my purple fingers. Muddy clay at the bottom squishes between my toes. Continuing our gentle ride home, the warm breeze dries us off. Passing the ice cream parlor, the church, the baseball fields, a patch of violets and Queen Anne’s lace.
We are greeted by the white house with navy shutters, and the front door is propped open. Brilliant flowers blanket the grass in front of the house and hang from the roof of the porch. Bees and butterflies flit among the flowers, bringing life to their simple beauty. I turn on the hose, and sprinkle the flowers. They must be very dry on such a hot day. The water droplets on the flowers gleam in the sunlight, sparkling from a distance. I spray him with the hose, and we laugh and play in the grass. We must be careful to not spray the house, though, because we cannot get the baby birds wet. The straw wreath next to the door houses a nest of robins. The mother is away, the babies must be scared of me. I jump to get a glimpse of the baby birds in their nest, they are finally growing feathers! As we enter the house, he makes his way down the stairs. He is ready for a swim, but decides to help us with the blackcap berries instead. We all sing along to the music as the sun shines through the big windows in the kitchen.
And it’s a great day to be alive
I know the sun’s still shining when I close my eyes
There’s some hard times in the neighborhood
But why can’t every day be just this good?
Oh, and it is a great day to be alive. She greets us with a kiss and asks about our morning as we all sort the blackcaps together. We should call them to see if they would like to come enjoy the blackcaps, see if they would like a swim. Waiting for their arrival, we lay in the grass among the purple and yellow Johnny jump-ups, talking about the few white, fluffy clouds. Although young, I realize how special this is. How special are my house, my family, the flowers, the sunshine. How beautiful.
Our house is soon empty, everyone is enjoying the heat. Playing water games in the pool until the late afternoon when they call us for some blackcaps. We grab a towel from the wooden beams in the pool house and make our way to the deck behind the house. Waiting for each of us is vanilla bean ice cream with warm blackcap syrup, fresh berries, and mint leaves on the wood picnic table with peeling red paint. Cool and sweet, refreshing in the summer twilight. My purple fingers are wrinkly from the water, my wet hair drips down my back to the red bench beside the picnic table. Quietly listening to the adults talk, we decide to organize a game of kickball or hiding in the dark. We children can simply not agree on how to play these games, so we swim. Bats fly above our heads as we swim in the dark. We dive beneath the surface to avoid the painful sting of the beautiful damsel flies as they grace the top of the water.
My friends leave after we say goodbye. I sit and listen to them talk under the white twinkling lights which are strung between the trees. Fireflies remind me that the magic of such a beautiful day is not over. He strums the guitar. Not any song in particular, but a culmination of lovely notes. In the cool black night, the fiery heat of the morning seems so distant. My fingers are still purple. It was a great day to be alive.