That Green and Crazy Summer





Bucket list item no. 8 from Whole Living July/August 2012 issue: reread your favorite novel.

Mine is The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers.  I first read it after college while lying on a blanket in Manhattan's Central Park.

I don't remember the story well at all, but what I always have clear in my mind is the first sentence and parts of the first few pages.  That first sentence just sets the scene and I have always loved it.

It happened that green and crazy summer when Frankie was twelve years old.

The first paragraph continues at length, thirteen sentences or so, drawing out the slow, hot, green blur.

...In June the trees were bright dizzy green, but later the leaves darkened, and the town turned black and shrunken under the glare of the sun.  At first Frankie walked around doing one thing and another.  The sidewalks of the town were gray in the early morning and at night, but the noon sun put a glaze on them, so that the cement burned and glittered like glass.  The sidewalks finally became too hot for Frankie's feet, and also she got herself in trouble.  She was in so much secret trouble that she thought it was better to stay at home--and at home there was only Bernice Sadie Brown and John Henry West.  The three of them sat at the kitchen table, saying the same things over and over, so that by August the words began to rhyme with each other and sound strange.  The world seemed to die each afternoon and nothing moved any longer.  At last the summer was like a green sick dream, or a silent crazy jungle under glass...

 As a mother now of a twelve year old daughter of my own, I see the character of Frankie in a whole new way than I did when I read this book for the first time under the trees in Central Park. Interesting how that happens!

At some point in the next few days, when time allows, I will make myself an iced tea, lemonade, or other fruity soda and sit on my front porch, feet up, and The Member of The Wedding in hand.  I will let time slow down to what we think of when we think of August, and reread my favorite novel whose first sentence has stayed with me for many a summer day.