Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What I Did Last Summer

I have one of those super-economical man brains.

You know, the kind of brain that doesn't remember anything it doesn't have to. I am the perfect example of “use it or lose it.”

And I seem to lose plenty.

Remove me from a situation for a couple of days and the brain cells that are responsible for that particular memory immediately begin self-destructing—like fizz from a pop can. If I were a cartoon you'd see a manic stream of memory cells diving out my ears like sailors abandoning ship.

Nowhere is this more clear than when you compare my brain to Lori's. Lori remembers everything that was ever said in any social setting going back to at least 1973.

Because her brain works that way she naturally assumed that mine did too.

Note that “assumed” is in the past tense.

It took her a while, but she's finally realized that I just don't remember things. However, for years before that epiphany, she regularly tortured me by beginning conversations with, “Remember when...?”

“Remember when we were at the Star Trek Convention in Timbuktu and my friend, Dweezle, from Weiser, Idaho said that she got mistaken for Jane Seymour from that show Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman?”


So I began counting how many times she began conversations with, “Remember when...?”

And I found that on average she asked that question 27 times per day.

And although most of the time I failed miserably at remembering the thing she was referring to, occasionally I had a magical moment when I vaguely remembered something and would excitedly respond with a kind of desperate, tail-wagging, “Yeah...I sort of, kind of, maybe remember that...?!”

But most of the time that particular question led to my utter humiliation.

So I banned the use of “remember when” as the beginning of any question.

And now my personal self-esteem has risen to Tony Robbins levels.

Which is why I like photos.

Because photos have a way of instantly reminding me of stuff that I've forgotten.

I don't know how many end-of-summers have come around and I've said, “We didn't really do anything this summer! How could we have wasted all those sunny days?!”

And thankfully Lori is there with her Wonder Woman memory to remind me of all the fun stuff we did and when I look at her in a puzzled way she patiently takes me by the hand and leads me over to the photos and says, “Look. See? We did all those things.”

Then she wipes the drool from my mouth and lovingly puts me in bed for my nap.

So I've perused the summer photographs and by darn I remember some of this stuff! And I figured I might as well share it.

Weirdly, it all began with a baby bird.

Natalie's an animal lover and we heard that there was this evil farmer (my dad) that was going to do away with a nest of magpies. So we staged a rescue and were able to save one of the little critters.

Thus began one of the most annoying relationships between man and bird.

The little birdie began life at the White house with a cute little squeak when he was hungry—but that little squeak quickly turned into an ear-deafening shriek. We soon found ourselves captive to the gastronomical whims of a constantly hungry magpie. Imagine us tip-toeing around our house so that we wouldn't wake the thing. We even had Tanner and Ryan trained to feed it—in order to spread the burden around.

Then is was time to flex our garden and landscaping muscles. Our house in Orem had a strip of flowers in the front not much bigger than a throw rug. The automatic sprinkler system had 6 stations for a total of about 30 sprinklers.


Let's just say that our new house has a lot more.

You know when you have to create a spreadsheet to keep track of the sprinklers that you have your work cut out for yourself.

So Lori took a self-taught crash course in flower-gardening and could be seen outside every day during the months of April, May, and June planting flowers and moving them from here to there and back again.

Not long after that I found myself backpacking high in the Uintahs to attend a Scout Camp with Connor. I now declare with a strange mixture of pride and guilt that I witnessed him catch his first fish.

Pride that my boy caught one...guilt that I hadn't taken him fishing before.

But, I think it's a pretty good excuse that fishing really isn't in my skill-set. Shoot, my dad never took me fishing.

So, we learned together—and we ended up catching some nice “brookies.”

Not long after, when I needed a little trackhoe work done on the edge of our property it was my 6 year-old neighbor, H, who did it for me.

No, that's not a typo. He's 6 years-old and his name is H.

The Fourth of July found us swept along in the neighborhood parade. Gotta love it when the entire neighborhood poo poos the traditional, yet highly crowded, Provo Freedom Festival Parade in lieu of creating one of their own—complete with red-white-and-blue festooned lawn tractors.

In mid-Summer, Lori's palette of flowers burst in all the right places and we spent many satisfied moments wandering around the yard commenting on the placement of this flower, and the subtle hues of that flower, and “Whoops, all those weeds we pulled were some sort of perennial—and would ya look at that one! It survived!”

Then the stuff in the garden exploded and all our kitchen bowls were filled to the brim with our own home-grown strawberries, raspberries, zucchinis, tomatoes, and Yukon Gold potatoes. We even had a little crop of Jonathan apples and delectable free-stone peaches.

Then I was off to another high-adventure camp—this time to Flaming Gorge with Jason. Daddies like me are always proud of their sons when they pop right up out of the water and make their first wake-boarding experience look easy. Jason should do more of that 'cause he's a natural.

And regarding home life in the summer, I can also report with no stretch of the truth that I ate breakfast on our backyard deck every morning.

Simply soaked up the quiet sounds and sweet scents of each summer dawn.

That is, until one sunny morning I nearly soiled myself when a huge hawk swooped up from below like some hellfire and brimstone fiend of the infernal pit. Had I been a little furry critter I would have been toast—because I froze solid with a dripping spoon of Cheerios between my cereal bowl and gaping mouth.

Luckily it was going for the magpie and not for me.

And luckily the magpie was inside a stout cage.

And the weird thing was that I was sitting 6 feet away and that hawk couldn't have cared less.

All in all, it was a beautiful summer.

Filled with the smell of honeysuckle and the tang of home-grown strawberries; fresh tomato sandwiches, breezes from across the hollow, groups of laughing kids in the yard, fried zucchini, and lying down on cool, soft grass to count the shooting stars.

I figure my memory cells can jump ship all they want.

I've got the photos to prove it.