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Finish the Sentence Friday: The Best Thing about Summer is. . . .

Five-year-old me riding a bike on our gravel driveway

The best thing about summer is memories--making them, and remembering them. Here's a summer memory from my childhood, which I'm linking up to the Finish the Sentence Friday blog hop. 

As soon as I was a child in school, summers became special. After months in the classroom--which I loved, by the way--summer presented a break from academic expectations. Endless hours of free time stretched almost as wide as the horizon. 

I lived just outside city limits of a small town in Oregon. Every year, near the 4th of July, the World Championship Albany Timber Carnival would be held in the appropriately-named Timber Linn Park. Loggers from all over would come to compete in events such as log-rolling, pole-climbing, and various sawing competitions. I lived just about a mile away from the park, and at that time, there were just fields and a few trees separating my house from the carnival.

In the days preceding the carnival, I would go to the next-door-neighbor's front porch with a pair of binoculars, and all of us kids would watch the set-up of the carnival. The raising of the tall spar poles was especially exciting. We didn't even need the binoculars to see them go up. Once the carnival started, though, we again could use the binoculars to watch the loggers race to the top of the poles.  We couldn't see the other events, not even with the binoculars, but we could hear the cheers from the crowds and imagine the splashes of the log-rollers as they fell off the logs into the water of the man-made Timber Lake. 

(To give you some idea of the events, watch this video below from YouTube. It shows the Timber Carnival events at Waverly Lake, which is where the carnival took place until 1959.)

Because we lived within walking distance of the park, cars would park all up and down our road. We would watch the people walking to and from the carnival. Each year, my parents would walk my brother, sister, and I to the amusement rides, where we would ride the Ferris wheel. One year, as we were going to the park, we saw cameramen from ABC's Wide World of Sports. I was so proud that our little city was featured on such a famous show! The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat!

On the evening of the 4th of July, the fireworks display was set off from Timber Linn Park, which meant our front yard became a prime viewing ground. We would invite friends over, pop popcorn, and spread blankets out on the front lawn. As dusk approached, I remember cautiously, and a little fearfully, holding a sparkler and watching the sparks fall. Finally, it would be time for the fireworks show. The deep, thunderous BOOMS rattled my heart, but my favorite fireworks were the ones that sent lights out in Medusa-like coils and made a funny, frenetic, zip-zip-zip noise. We always knew the show was almost over when the grand finale sent firework after firework into the sky in rapid succession.

One year, the show didn't stop when the fireworks ended, because just as the scheduled pyrotechnics stopped, Mother Nature let loose with a fantastic thunder and lightening storm. We watched from behind the safety of our big picture window in the living room, at least until Mom told us we had to go to bed, because who knew how long the storm would last. The next morning, she told us that the thunder and lightening finally ended at 2 or 3 in the morning. I remember feeling that life wasn't fair that the adults got to stay up and watch the storm, but the children--especially me, the oldest child--had to go to bed.

The fireworks signaled the end of the Timber Carnival, and the next day, I would again join my neighbors on their front porch with a pair of binoculars, and we would watch the spar poles come down until the next year. 


  1. Awww! I love this memory. Especially the line "Endless hours of free time stretched almost as wide as the horizon." It really used to be that way, right? I'm trying to make this summer that way for Tucker but wow, it all feels different. Fireworks are my favorite by the way, and Tucker's birthday is July 4, so we've always traveled to them on beaches and other, and this year? I guess we'll make new memories for him, too. Thank you so much for linking up. <3

    1. How great that Tucker gets fireworks for his birthday! Yes, this summer will be different than most, but hopefully it will still feel like endless hours of free time. :-)
      It's been way too long since I linked up; thanks for always hosting!

  2. What fun! We did not live near a carnival, but we lived walking distance from some of the parade routes for Mardi Gras, and we would walk to see the floats.

    1. I've never seen Mardi Gras; I imagine it is quite energetic.


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