It's June, and although summer doesn't officially begin for another couple of weeks, kids are finishing up the school year, people are firing up their backyard barbecues, and families are heading out on vacations.
When I was a child, summer vacations were always spent on my grandmother's farm in southern Alabama. There, my cousins and I spent long, hot days hoeing acres of butter beans, field peas, tomatoes and okra. We rose early to pick the ripest fruits and vegetables, then spent hours in the kitchen, canning the harvest for the winter. Evenings found us rocking in the double-swing on the wide front porch with enormous bowls in our laps. While the swing rocked, we popped peas out of their shells or snapped beans into the bowls.
And we talked. About the boys and the stores and the adventures of our city-lives. Listened to our cousins from Alabama share their own tales of boys and cows and what Ol' Man-this and Ol' Lady-that had done lately. Hung on every word that fell from our Massachusetts cousins who spoke so differently from the rest of us but had the best stories to tell.
As I grew older, I missed those summer days. I went to college, which meant I needed a j-o-b during the summer or there'd be no money for brain food, aka pizza, once classes started again. I married a Navy man, and we moved...a lot. We had children and spent our vacations visiting their grandparents. Too many years passed. My grandmother's house changed hands several times and, although family members still own it, it's no longer the gathering place it once was.
This weekend, though, a bunch of us cousins did get together again. And though it had been a l-o-n-g time since many of us had seen each other, we made ourselves at home on a front porch where we shared the stories of our lives...and vowed not to wait so long to get together again.
Family, it's one of the central themes of Harlequin American Romance. I so enjoyed touching base with my family this weekend. How about you? Any plans for a family reunion this summer?