Schools were out. Our feet were bare, and we were ready for the return of a little beetle who gave us a short visit. June bugs were both a joy and a nuisance. They buzzed around you with noise made by rubbing their hind legs together. This must have been done constantly because there was a lot of noise. Young boys delighted in throwing June Bugs onto girls. The girls screeched and ran. Of course, that was the desired result of the beetle toss. The June Bugs were harmless and did not sting or bite, and were only around in June.
Fire Flies (that we called Lightening Bugs) lit up the sky in the summer evenings. These came in hordes or sometimes just one at a time. It was great fun to catch and fill a jar with this magical summer light. However, this was not a kindness to the poor lightening bugs who did no harm and only showed off their lights. I believe our treatment of the lightening bugs was paid back by a very tiny summer visitor. There is nothing good that can be said about a gnat! As soon as you sat down in the yard an army of gnats swarmed around your face and were especially drawn to your eyes. The more you tried to swat them away the more aggressive they became. In the evening mosquitos replaced the gnats. Their bite stung, raised a large whelp and itched like crazy. It kept you busy, but mosquitos were larger and could be swatted. Sandspurs could not be avoided when you ran barefoot through weed- filled lots. This big thorn went deep into your foot. You had to hop home on one foot for your mother to pull out with tweezers. Painful, yes, but that did not stop us from running barefoot through weedy places. All of this does not make the southern summers of my childhood sound like a place you would choose to vacation. I disagree. We just regarded the insects and thorns as part of the summer and enjoyed icy glasses of sweet tea, running through the sprinkler, wading in a creek, long days to play outdoors, eating peaches fresh from the trees, picking grapes from the vine, girls spending days making a playhouse or boys a fort and the feel of soft sand on your bare feet. That is why I am always proud to say I “grew up in Georgia.” The pests and maladies named above did not stop us from fun- filled summer days without a television, DVD, video game, computers or visiting an amusement park. Do not let these aggravations discourage you from a summer visit. All store shelves are now stocked with varieties of sprays that will keep you safe and comfortable. Write to Shirley at email@example.com.
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