Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Tar On My Tootsies

Sheepo's flip-flops

Know what? The temp is up! I’ll bet you noticed. I probably ask this every year but, Was it this hot when we were kids?

I really don’t remember.

We played in shorts and bare feet or thongs all summer long. (You call them flip-flops, we called them thongs.) Mostly we were barefoot. 🙂 I still take off my shoes as soon as I get home.

One day after lunch I asked, “Mom can we go outside and play?” (Yes, we really asked if we could go out and play. Almost unheard of today.)

“It’s too hot to go outside,” she answered, sounding tired. (She was probably pregnant, too.)

“It’s not that hot,” I answered. “The winds blowing.”

“But it’s a hot wind.”

We played out anyway. No playing nice girly girl games inside for the Spess girls. We didn’t embroider tea towels or crochet doilies. We went out and ran and played.

When we first moved to C-Town, the road in front of our house was gravel, but not long after they put tarmac on it. At least, I think it was tarmac. It was black and runny and HOT!

If we ran across it barefoot, we tracked it right into the yard. And at night, the bottom of our feet was as black as the street. Every summer, they poured tiny chat on top of that hot tarry stuff. The little gravel must have melted, because it wasn’t long before we were back walking on the black goo again.

With five kids in the house (the sixth didn’t come along for a long time) I just imagine we smelled like a tribe of puppies. Maybe that’s why our parents got a season ticket to the pool every year. We’d stay in the water from the time it opened until it closed, and sometimes go back for the night session.

I wished I could sleep in the pool, floating on my back. I loved swimming! We met so many friends there.

Ours is the only round pool I’ve ever seen. The deep end is in the middle–twelve foot deep. The drop off was steep, and if you could blow enough air from your lungs, you could slide right down it.

We took swimming lessons every year. The first year, I was so afraid to float on my back. I might get water up my nose. Soon I learned to not only float on my back, I swam a lot on it, too.

I took junior lifesaving when I was thirteen and lifesaving when I was older with #4 as my partner. When she had to rescue me, we cheated just a little–I kicked instead of playing dead. 🙂

Every once in a while, we had to mow the lawn. “No swimming until the lawn is mowed!”

Funny, how big the yard was on mowing days. Our mower was a push one (riding lawn mower? what’s that?) and on those days, I knew how hot it was. And how hot the wind was. And how much fun it wasn’t, having to work in the yard.

Mom and Dad did the trimming, thank heaven. I’m not sure I’d have survived a whole day working in the heat without time to swim.

When I was three and we lived in Old Ford, we drove into West Tulsa to New Block Park to swim. There was a whole row of shower heads you had to walk through before you could get into the pool. I hated the water in my face!

And anytime someone asked me how old I was, I told them, “Most of the time I’m three, but when we go swimming, I’m five.”

You think maybe there was a rule about swimming age for children? Maybe?

Some of my very happiest memories are summer ones. (#4 was born in summer.) I think I’ll take off my shoes and go outside now. 😉





I’m Leafing

I love springtime, almost as much as I love fall.

And I love my jasmine!

And I love gardens, and gardening! As long as it’s not too hot or cold or wet or dry. Guess you could call me a fair weather gardener. I just call me the WWG.  (World’s Worst Gardner.)

My favorite gardening is when I don’t do anything, and things just bloom. Like Jazzy–my jasmine who grows on the fence at the back of my garden.

Question: Do you name the plants in your garden? Is the fact that I do a sign that I’m . . .  Never mind. I don’t want to know.

Now, combine my enjoyment for gardens with my enjoyment of photography, which I’m not that good at either, but I enjoy the guts out of it.

Yesterday, I took my camera into the yard. I took Jazzy’s portrait, then noticed the leaves on one of my Japanese Maples in the first garden I built after moving here were looking good.

Don’t you love the way the light shines through?

I have a thing about leaves. I love to sit under a tree and just watch the leaves move in the breeze. They relax me as they whisper, rustle, play and some even predict the weather. (Deciduous trees’ leaves often turn upside down before a rain.)

I’ve been told that when I was an infant, I loved for Mama to put my carriage under a tree. I’d babble to the leaves as if they were talking with me.

I have a theory about babies and guardian angels.

BTW: Leaves aren’t easy to photograph on a breezy day. For some reason, they just won’t hold still. And living here on the lake, it’s a rare day that’s not breezy. So your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to pretend these pictures are well focused. This communication will self-destruct . . .  (TV Show/Movie title?)

Or maybe I’ll make-believe I wanted them this way so you could see the energy.