By Lesli Nolen
When I was a kid, nearly every summer my dad, mom, sister and I would spend a week at Possum Kingdom Lake. Oh, the days spent on the sandy beach and the morning and evenings spent fishing! I can remember taking turns burying each other in the sand with only our heads sticking out. We built sand castles, swam and I think I lost my glasses at least once every time we were there. I remember having to cake on that thick white sunscreen and wear a cap to shade the sun, as if anything was going to get through that white stuff. When I was tired, I would curl up on the floor of the boat underneath the steering column and sleep. Those were the days--best days of my life.
Spending a week on the lake you had to have lake food. Before our trip mom would fry up lots of chicken and, of course, we had to have the junk food, too: snicker doodle cookies, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, pound cake, trash mix, Cheez-its, etc. But one of my favorite snacks to eat on the lake was peanut butter and crackers. The trick was to set the jar of peanut butter out in the hot sun and let it get real warm and creamy. Then it would just melt in your mouth. Nothing was better than sitting in your lawn chair just off the shore where the waves would gently roll over you as you sat and ate just taking in the day’s sun.
Another favorite of mine at the lake was the smell of the fish. I don’t know what smelled better, catching the fish or frying the fish. Probably frying along with the smell of jalapeno hush puppies or seasoned fries, either way it was a great ending to a great day.
I also share this favorite with a friend of mine. Before I wrote this, I asked my friends on the Facebook website to send me their summertime favorites. Stacie Poyner of Fort Worth, co-owner of Dean Kingston Men and Women’s Clothing, shares this favorite with me. She loves the smell of fresh fish frying with all the fixings and tops it off with a big glass of sweet tea. She loves the feel of water splashing on you as you speed across the lake at sunset after a long day of skiing, the smell of Coppertone suntan lotion and the feel of the sun on your skin when you’re catching some rays reading a good book; a watermelon cooled by the pool with lots of salt on it, letting the juices run down your arms and then being able to rinse off in the pool. Stacie’s other summer time favorites include dollar hot dog night at the Rangers game; the sound of the snow cone truck knowing you are about to get a grape snow cone, having water gun fights in the back yard, barefoot, with the kids; the smell of sun dried sheets; fireflies; and lying on the trampoline at night staring up at the stars as if you could reach out and touch them and making a wish on a fallen star.
Christi Price, from Odessa, school teacher and mother of two; told me their summer time favorite is traveling to Alpine and Fort Davis. They love that the temperature is usually 10-15 degrees cooler than it is in Odessa. They enjoy Balmorhea State Park and the Davis Mountains, and they love to eat at Reatta Restaurant in Alpine.
Bradley Smith Cromer, of North Carolina, told me the smell of daytime summer rains is his favorite. I think we all share that sentiment. Christine Smith, of Houston, who was also my college roommate back in the day, loves the smell of summertime grilling. My mother-in-law, Tina Nolen of Odessa, also shares this summer favorite. Another favorite of Tina’s is the sandhills at Monahans, surfing on cardboard and digging for water. One day, I want this story in full detail. Ginger Whitson, co-worker at Ranch magazine also enjoys the sandhills.
Last but not least, the most enjoyed summer time favorite of the Nolen family is baseball. Again, my mother-in-law, Tina, and her husband, Bob, had a love for the game long before their son, my husband, Breech, ever played the game.
In fact, they spent their summers at baseball camp and baseball tournaments. I have grown to enjoy the game of baseball and have even become a pretty big fan, but I still prefer my summers at the lake. Being married now for nearly 13 years we’ve combined our childhood summertime favorites--we take a bat and ball with us to the lake. I hope by sharing some these summer favorites with you, you too will remember yours and will make this summer one to remember.