My Favorite Summer Memory:

Turtle Races

Since July began, just a short while ago, I have been thinking about “summer” a lot. What summer is now and what summer used to be.

Favorite Summer Memory??

When someone asked me what my favorite summer memory was, I immediately went to just laying out in the sun and having no stress. I thought to myself — this cannot be my “favorite summer memory.” There HAS to be something better than just tanning outside and drinking a cold (alcoholic) beverage. Thats when it really hit me, that my days of summer freedom are truly over. I had to force myself to think like a kid again, like a kid who has never-ending sunny hours to do anything I please. Thats when my *real* favorite summer memory came back to me and put a smile on my face.

“Up North”

Longville, MN. A small town in an area we Minnesotans call “Up North” — basically anywhere more than an hour’s drive north of the Twin Cities. During the summer Longville’s population must triple, if not quadruple, in size from all the city folk flocking to enjoy simplicities of lake life. My family often ventured to Longville to spend a week or two in a rented cabin Woman Lake. The typical “Up North” activities were had; swimming, fishing, bonfires and ghost stories. But one part of going to Longville will stay with me, even if it gets filed away with other memories of childhood since past.

Wednesdays in Longville: A small stage with a dj, city folk standing in family pods, and kids huddled around plastic swimming pools. These pools were not for cooling off, oh no, this was a very important staging area for Longville’s athletes.

Turtle races. Reptilian competitors brought in from the seemingly endless chain of lakes around Longville, primed and ready to be sponsored by a youngster in the epic Wednesday races. My sisters and I would debate over which seemed the smartest choice; the full grown and strong turtles, or the small quick babies climbing over others in the pool. I vividly recall the feeling of their claws scratching my fingertips when finally grabbed them out of the pool. The strength my turtle displayed when it pushed off my hands gave me such excitement and anticipation for a “W”.

There were multiple rounds of races, and only the fastest turtle would advance. We lined up inside a circle, set the turtle down, and at once let them free.

All eyes watched as our picks crawled slowly or quickly, left or right, forwards or backwards. All you can do in these moments is watch and hope your athlete will find its way to the outer ring first. Sometimes you were blessed with a turtle that “knew the ropes” and whisked its way to the finish line. Other times your turtle would not budge, or even make it so close to the outer ring and then turn around back to you. The luck of the draw made these races endless enjoyment for kids on their “Up North” vacation.

Back to Reality

It took me a few minutes of reflection to recall this memory. And why? As a kid this is something I looked forward to every summer, and remembered for the ensuing cold months. I realize it is how I view summer as an adult that made me file this memory in the depths. The further away I get from summers filled with freedom, the more I forget about this fantastic memory. My summers fly by like the days of any other month now, and if I get a few hours to spend in the sun I simply want to soak up the rays and forget my thoughts.

I miss the days when summer meant freedom, when it was something you and your friends longed for the other 8 months of the year. Summer was magical; it stopped time, slowed us down and made us reflect. I think every adult deserves a little more summer magic in their lives and I encourage making time for things like Turtle Races during these hottest months...

What is your favorite summer memory? Can you recall? Think back to a time when you were young and adventurous during the hottest months. Dare to Voice and share your memory on Tings.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.