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Summertime and the livin' can be easy

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By Michael O'Hare
Thursday, May 30, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

As George Gershwin told us in music and lyric:


And the livin' is easy

Fish are jumpin'

And the cotton is high”

I wonder as we move into this most wonderful of the four seasons: Is the livin' ever easy, would we notice if the fish are jumpin' or be quick to remark when (in this area) the corn crop gets high?

Summer is meant to be enjoyed (so I believe) and if we go slap-dash on through life we are not likely to recognize the opportunity.

I often read in lots or articles and books about our harried lifestyles; and what is weird is how it is so taken for granted. Nobody suggests that we ought not to exist that way, it is just a given that we do.

It is time to slip into an easier pace.

As a kid I collected a cigar box full of the thin shells of what I think were the cocoons of cicadas (but some said they were locust shells) left behind the house on the bark of the huge toby tree. They looked like little bugs even after the little bug was gone.

But no matter what they were, finding such things and studying them is not just the province of children. Adults would be wise to return to such fascinations.

When my granddaughter Elizabeth was quite young she showed a fascination for the ants and worms and other bugs that crawled about the walkway. Now, not yet into her teen years , she shows no interest in such things – at least I don't think so.

Walking about the streets of a small town (or neighborhood) on a summer's evening should still be a delight, listening to the muffled conversations of people on the porches or noticing the flickering of light from a screened window and knowing the folks inside are watching the Pirates play. Do people still do these things? Perhaps not.

We had a community pool and it had a playground and a basketball court, but the real fascination for me and other youngsters was the slow moving creek that had carved out the valley. Salamanders could be found by lifting the flat rocks and a toad could sometimes be spotted.

Now that I think back, I don't believe I ever saw an adult exploring the creek or its banks. Just not cool for them, I guess.

We don't have community movie houses anymore; the movies are shown in rather bland buildings in shopping centers. They have no artistry to them as did the old movie theaters.

There is no experience like that of stepping out of the cool interior of a movie theater after the last showing and hitting the humid air of a summer night. If you were holding the hand of a significant other it was even better.

Walking home was a treat, under the heavily laden trees, the street lights acting the part of spotlights to show off the intersections.

As I think about this season, it occurs to me that park benches of late are totally unappreciated and underused.

Park benches are the perfect places to watch the world meander by. It is where you can notice the varying gaits of younger and older passersby.

Of course, there are the random joggers. What is the matter with those people? Slow down, it is summertime and the livin' is easy.

Summer is the time to go places to see things. As a kid, I learned it need not be far.

Some of my favorite places to go were: Lake Erie, Niagara Falls (Fort Niagara was a part of that), Titusville where my grandmother lived or to my Uncle Pius' place in Crescent, Pa. He literally lived next to the railroad tracks, the front of the house facing the yard where I could watch frieght trains all day and where I drove a tractor about his flat yard. Today, I add to that list Crooked Creek Park, Lake Arthur and Cook Forst State Park, and almost any park in Pittsburgh. The park benches in Pittsburgh are perfect for reading a book and occasionally watching the passing parade.

If all this sounds a bit irresponsible of an adult -- well, that's tough and I feel sorry for you.

It is summertime and the livin' can be easy.

Meandering appears Fridays. To share your thoughts on this column (or on most anything) with News Editor Mike O'Hare, write to the Leader Times, P.O. Box 978, Kittanning, PA 16201 or via e-mail to

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