Sunday, July 19, 2015

Brooklyn Summer

It's been a long time since I've updated. Busy with the stuff of life. My professional freelance life has picked up a bit and O now adjusts to part time daycare, a balance that feels much better for us both.

The business of writing and publishing has set me back and I struggle with where I have landed, somewhere far-far-away, or so it feels, but I have a finished novel I love, a new idea ready to run where it runs, and I have my cautious optimism. Some days, it feels, what is there to say about this writing life? Except that it goes and goes and has its carousel-way with me. Maybe that's why I've been so quiet here.

I've been walking through this hot and rainy summer, the air hanging low and wet. I take Little O to various playgrounds. I hide in the shade, against the curl of the red slide. O's better now about getting up and down the stairs. He holds on, his toes hanging over each step and, one at a time, he lets one foot meet the next. He totters, like a penguin, down to where he came from and back.

I find myself in a Brooklyn summer as if for the first time, experiencing it with O. The kind of summer when children's laughter and wet braids slash through the spray of fire hydrants. Kids dangle from their parent's wrists and popsicles drip in rainbow lines to their elbows. O walks round and round our block with his push toy. He wrestles with the gates of the community garden, stomps in mud pits and sprinkler puddles, dipping watering cans and pails in the muck. We wait with braceleted wrists at the city Pop-up pool and he blows bubbles in the water. I consider, over online shopping carts, which swimmies might be best for a road trip lake vacation (puddle jumpers, anyone?).

Visiting my parents, I remember, as the little kids in the house next door send their bare tummies along their slip and slide, how summer was wet and restless and racing, with legs and arms pumping. I dunked my head in water, clutched at the grass in handstands, ran after the ice cream truck.

I am thrilled to discover that Brooklyn summers are similar. We may trade grass for concrete, but all the wet spray and breathless laughter and running toward the steel drum bell of the ice cream truck remain the same. I am reminded that summer, when done right, is barefoot and sticky and slick with sun cream, no matter where it takes place.


  1. I just started reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for the first time, and now I feel that I've been thoroughly introduced to Brooklyn summers. :) Your description is just as evocative as Betty Smith's, by the way!
    Here in CT, my summer is defined by letting the garden take care of itself on these days when it's just way too hot, so my yard is a little bit jungle-like at the moment. It's wonderful to be so close to the beach, though (especially as no AC unit seems to touch the heat when you're 37 weeks pregnant...).

  2. So gorgeous. Thank you for reminding me what summer was like when I was a kid -- and for letting me know it apparently still exists!

  3. Melissa, I really enjoyed reading this post. Watching your little one discover everything is so special. I grew up in Queens and my summers were similar to my later ones on Long Island. Just harder to get to the beach and pools! Enjoy the rest of your summer.

  4. You have such a beautiful, vibrant way of describing things, Melissa. You really are a gorgeous writer.

    I hope you and O catch many of those ice cream trucks, in all your summers to come.

  5. I love reading your posts with your rich imagery and beautiful words. I think I've said this before, but I think you have a novel in verse playing peek-a-boo in you somewhere!

  6. That was such a lovely evocation of barefoot days. My tween doesn't seem to want to do any of those kinds of summery things she did as a toddler--running in the sprinklers, making sidewalk chalk masterpieces, driving little bulldozers through the sandbox. I so miss the wide grassy spaces of rural PA on these warm days.

  7. Such beautiful images, and I totally agree--having children has made me fall in love with summer again! Setting up the kid pool in our little side yard, I expect them to be disappointed...but they aren't! They play for hours as well in our little pool as they do at the big community pool--and I am terrified for the day that these little joys won't suffice--when we will have to trek to a water park for the same thrills.