Let me start by saying I’m not a fan of sweating or this ever-so-hot weather we’re experiencing.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy what the spring and summer months bring — the lovely green trees, the lush, green grass between my toes and the beautiful flowers throughout the valley. With that being said, the temperatures have become almost unbearable and summer only started on Monday.

I wasn’t always this curmudgeonly. There was a time in my life when I couldn’t wait for summer to come, and not just because we were on break from school.

Clara Garcia

I thoroughly enjoyed the heat, the crisp feel of the air and the long days when the sun wouldn’t set until 9 p.m. There were things to do and I was more than willing to participate in everything summer.

If I remember correctly, summertime was a season of fun in the sun, not those lazy days that some fondly recall.

Summer was a chance to play all day — every day. If we weren’t at the public swimming pool, my brothers and sisters and I were having water fights in the backyard, riding our bikes throughout the neighborhood, making a tent out of sheets and taking us only where our imaginations went.

We rarely stayed inside during those summer days. It was a time of adventure, of laughter and of surprises.

My mom and dad always had a fabulous backyard. They would water the lawn, plants, trees and flowers every evening. It was their oasis and our summertime playground.

I cherish the memories of our time together, when we’d construct a make-shift Cano Olympic-style obstacle course. We’d use whatever we could find to construct it — ropes, hula-hoops, chairs, ladders and cinder blocks. By the end of the competition, we’d be bruised and a little battered, but it was all fun!

Then there were those years of the Slip-in-Slide. Those long pieces of plastic with water spewing from the holes on the side were so much fun, but disastrous to my parents’ lawn. We only were able to have it for maybe a couple of summers before my mom put a stop to it.

Looking back — way, way back — I remember summertime was a time for family, for friends, for fun. We enjoyed being together and doing what we could to keep cool.

To this day, my brother, Daniel, still loves to instigate water fights (balloons or not). My sister, Angela, is probably now comfortable walking inside a tent, and Emily always makes sure a bee hasn’t landed on the top of her soda can before she takes a drink.

Cano family

For me, I haven’t learned from my childhood mistakes. I still, to this day, will walk outside without shoes during the hottest part of the day. I think my feet blistered so much when I was a child that my brain doesn’t remember to warn me of the pain.

Those days of summer are now precious memories. Our family has changed, and so has my parents’ backyard. It’s not as big anymore with the addition of a porch and storage building.

As I was looking through old photos a few weeks back, I came across one where most of us were in the backyard with my dad, reveling in our oasis. These were the best of times, summertime or not.

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Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin, as well as the executive editor of El Defensor Chieftain, the News-Bulletin's sister paper in Socorro.
Clara is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.