Lately, I have been thinking a lot about my summer experiences as a kid.
I am not sure why. It may be because of the persistent heat waves that have gripped the southern states this year. It may be that I live in tropical Queensland and the heat, humidity and six month long summers are pretty much staple conversation here.
I suspect it is mainly because, as I watch my kids grow up, I am realising more and more that the kind of experiences I had during summer in my childhood and teenage years, are exactly the kind of experiences I want my kids to have.
We were lucky enough to grow up in a small town on the NSW/Victoria border, so summer for me consisted of getting home from school, changing into a pair of bathers and running down to the river for a good two hours of swimming before dinner.
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As good as that was though, the summer holidays were the best. Dad would take a week off work and we would load up his old ute and head down to the river for a week away from the world.
This was no modern style of camping. There was no generator for the TV and electric fry pan. Our crude cooking appliances consisted of a fire and a small portable BBQ. Every couple of days Dad would have to drive into town to refresh the ice in the esky. The loo was a hole in the ground with a roll of toilet paper sitting on top of a used baked bean can. As the years went on we got really advanced and dad put a stool with an old toilet seat on it over the hole. We bathed in the river, never realising quite how ridiculous it was to wash our hair of a morning, then spend the entire day swimming and knee boarding behind the ’74 Merlin.
Anybody who knows the Murray, knows the futility of putting a fishing rod in. Yet every day we would get Dad to bait our lines and we’d listen and watch for any sign that a fish may have decided to have a nibble.