Anyone who has grown up in the sultry South knows this time of year.
It’s those hot, humid, not-a-hint-of-breeze, lazy days of summer.
The summer work frenzy is over, we’ve taken our vacation and it’s just too hot to start any major new projects.
The fish don’t bite, it’s not the season to hunt, a quick trip to the store is a sweaty task and if the garden isn’t up and bearing fruit, it’s just too late.
Farmers know it, merchants hate it and even church attendance suffers.
This becalmed time of year infects the newspaper business, too.
The clowns in Washington have adjourned for the summer and have headed home to campaign and smile. The wedding and senior party rush is over and schools haven’t cranked up.
It’s the perfect time to catch one’s breath.
I first learned about this time of year as a child from my grandfather – Floyd Ingram No. 1.
We used to sit in our front porch swing in the hottest part of the day and listen to the cicadas drill and watch the cars pass.
He didn’t mind my brothers and myself climbing into that old blue swing “as soon as you quit sweating and settle down,” he would say.
My grandfather smoked. It was an era when tobacco was touted for its calming effect and long before the Surgeon General deemed it an unhealthy habit.
He also rolled his own.
I can still remember him calmly and patiently pulling that Prince Albert can out of his pocket and giving me and my brother a look over the top of his glasses.
It was the signal to not move a muscle.
A carpenter by trade, he slowly creased the cigarette paper with hammer-hardened hands and laid it tenderly between index and middle finger.
Three slow shakes of the can evenly distributed the mellow brown, finely-cut tobacco the length of the paper.
A quick roll of his fingers – and it was our turn.
One of the lucky guys in that swing – one who had been appropriately still and quiet of course – got to lick the gum that would seal the cigarette and the experience.
We would then sit and watch the bumble bees pillage the nandina blossoms, watch the squirrels in the pecan tree or listen to the mockingbird out on the lawn as my grandfather quietly smoked.
I’m in the word business now and pride myself on vocabulary, facts and the ability to verbalize a thought or idea.
But as the lazy days of summer settle around us, I am reminded that the best memories are those silent quiet, wordless moments people spend together.
A scenic vista, your favorite girl at your arm or your child quietly nestled in your lap – those are the moments that seem to make time stand still.
Those are the quiet times that live so loud in our mind forever.
Floyd Ingram is Managing Editor/News for the Chickasaw Journal. He can be reached at 456-3771 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org