Summer: doing nothing counts

“Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy. To do nothing and have it count for something.” —Regina Brett

Summer! Well, almost. The school year has ended and the humidity has begun, so close enough.

It begins by sitting in my warm house, hoping to catch the crosswind between the fan blowing in front of me and window open behind me; feeling the first hint of even sunnier days to come, fighting the urge to be cheap (thrifty?) a little longer before flipping on the air conditioner.

That’s summer.

And snow cones. That’s summer, too.

But before snow cones, at least in my childhood summers, there were Twinkle Cones. They were wonderful and deserve capitalization.

The order was: swimming at the pool, popping sunflower seeds—because they were a staple no matter the activity—then a Twinkle Cone on the way home.

For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure, a Twinkle Cone is a regular soft-serve vanilla ice cream cone covered in, well…twinkles, which were some like sprinkles, but more sweet and magical.

Twinkle Cones and sunflower seeds, and also wax candy.

Wax candy was reserved for the baseball diamond. It was small-town entertainment at its finest: the crack of the bat on a rundown field, creaky, splinter-inducing bleachers, sunflower seeds (of course) and miniature pop bottle-shaped wax candies full of liquid sugar. Rip open the top with your teeth, drink the mystery liquid and chew on the wax…. Does it get better than that?

Twinkle Cones, sunflower seeds, wax candy and also window AC.

I remember the smell, then the feeling, in that order. Opening the front door to my childhood home and smelling the air, then walking straight to the window unit and turning the knob to the coldest setting just for a minute, inhaling as it blew on my face, turning it back down before I got caught, then plopping down on the couch with a blanket. There’s something especially cozy about taking a summer nap in the air conditioning, wrapped in a blanket.

Twinkle Cones, sunflower seeds, wax candy, window AC and also fireflies.

This is the thing about summer nights. There have always been, still are, and will always be kids running around their yards catching fireflies, using their lights as rings—I did that, I’m sorry—and putting them in jars to make lanterns.

Night after night, we ran ourselves into exhaustion, then pulled out lawn chairs and stared at the stars, eventually letting the fireflies glow undisturbed around us.

Maybe this is why I’m excited about the approaching summer. The assurance that all these things were once—a long time ago in years, but not so much in memory—at the center of my summer days and nights. And they’re all still around, ready for the taking.

The best memories are of doing a lot of nothing. And they definitely counted for something.

Shelley Plett is a graphic designer for the Free Press and Kansas Publishing Ven­tures. She can be reached at shelley@hillsborofree­press.com.