The Simplicity of Summer

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By Paula Deen

I have such fond memories celebrating the Fourth of July. Us kids would spend the day swimming ‘til our fingertips turned into prunes and filling our round little bellies with the most mouthwaterin’ watermelon and barbeque. We scared the livin’ daylights out of each other setting off firecrackers! Then, at sunset, we brought out the sparklers. They’re still my favorite. But when they were gone, we reluctantly went off to bed. I’d lie there for hours listening to the sound of those fireworks poppin’, wishing I could stay up as late as I pleased—wishing for my own independence day.

Summer was always a special time because the rules didn’t seem to apply—not in the same way, anyhow. Mama and Daddy would let us stay up later and sleep in longer ‘cause we didn’t have school. Life was about enjoying the simple pleasures—running through the sprinkler and eating popsicles that turned your whole mouth red. During those long, hot days, I’d hurry through my chores so I could escape on my bicycle. I just loved riding that bicycle. I’d cut through the neighbors’ yards and venture down dirt roads. Whenever I’d get on that bike, I felt as free as a bird.

One Fourth, Daddy brought me home a beautiful red, white and blue pinwheel and I remember coming up with the idea to tie it to my handlebars. I rode like a bat out of hell tryin’ to get that thing to spin. It caught on quick. Before long, all the other girls in the neighborhood wanted pinwheels for their bikes too. I felt like the cat’s pajamas.

I got to thinkin’ about those pinwheels again when a friend gave one to my grandson, Jack. You’d have thought he was given the world. He blew on that pinwheel so hard, I worried he might near pass out. So I told him to run with it instead. And boy, did he run.

Jack didn’t need some overpriced, battery-operated, bling-blangy toy to entertain him. And turns out, neither did I. A little summer sun, a carefree afternoon and each other’s company are the perfect ingredients for a good time. We spent hours running around the yard making that pinwheel hum (well, I sort of ran).

Later, I figured out that I could make my own pinwheels in all sorts of summery colors. It was so inexpensive and easy. I handed them out to Jack’s friends and mine, just as a reminder of what summer is really all about: good, simple fun. Turns out, everyone loves pinwheels—both the kids and the young-at-heart.

The same goes for the Fourth of July. What’s not to love? It’s a celebration filled with fresh fruit, beaches, sunshine, cookouts, family and vacation (to name a few of my personal favorites). In fact, this year I’m making a point of taking a much needed two-week’s vacation to do little more than sit on my porch with a tall glass of sweet tea and watch my pinwheels spin.

Read More From Holidays and Entertaining.

Read More From Fourth of July.

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Reader Comments:

54321

Paula love your shows watch them all the time. I was wondering do you have a receipe for a candied baked apple rings as a little girl I remember my grandma Birnell making them all the time but don't have a receipe for them they were out of this world so if you could find or help me with this I would really apprecitate it thank you very much. Tina Babb from my kitchen in Logansport Indiana to your kitchen there in Georgia.

By Tina Babb on November 20, 2011

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Aaaawwww the good old days!!!!! Those days are the greatest memories.

By Sheila Loop on July 04, 2011

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Wow, loved your story from when you were a kid! I find you to be a great inspiration. (I plan on trying your strawberry cheesecake ice cream on Monday). I remember the 4th as the same kind of simple summer fun that you do. My boys are 10 and 14, and we still do the sparklers and pops. I am making homemade ice cream right now, something we haven't done in several years. I love the watermelon, grilling, and patriotic songs of summer! Thanks to our great men and women who fight for our freedom, and many who sacrificed their lives for it, we can choose what to do this weekend. God bless you and yours, and God bless our military!!!!

By Mary Ann Winders on July 01, 2011

54321

thanks paula for making me a better cok

By linda adams on June 27, 2011

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I enjoy your cook bookds and like fixing the recipes. However I also use the website to get recipes. Some of the other sites I take recipes from pffer a recipe 3x5 size print option. Have you ever thought of making that possible on your site? It makes it so much easier to keep and file the recipes. Keep up the good work. God bless you and your family.

By Dianna Durham on June 25, 2011

54321

paula i watch you all the time and i record all your shows..stay as sweet as you are...love you

By mary cuellar on June 23, 2011

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I WOULD LIKE TO SIGN UP FOR THE PAULA DEEN NEWSLETTER. HOW DO I GO ABOUT IT?? I LOVE PAULA DEEN'S RECIPE BOOKS,SHOWS, AND JUST PAULA DEEN. YOU AND YOUR SONS ARE GREAT AND A JOY TO WATCH... KEEP UP THE WONDERFUL JOB!!

By DIANE BERNHARDT on June 22, 2011

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Paula, The days of yester year are so memorable. I remember as a child the same type of memories. I wish the children in this day in age would relate to those type of memories. I cherish your recipes as well as my own and try and incorparate them in my family meals. My family and I are visiting Tybee Island this summer and plan on eating at your restaurant. I hope you will be there. I know witn your bust schedule and being a celebrity now that you probably will not. If you ever read these e-mails I would love to hear from you. I have a great receipe of my own that your family might enjoy. Look forward to hearing from you. Sherri Kaminski

By Sherri Kaminski on June 22, 2011

54321

Luv ya, luv ya, luv ya!!!!!!! Great story!!!!!

By Lynne on June 22, 2011

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Paula, I must say you are just beautiful. I love your shows, and your cookbooks., as well as your magazine., but I have to say I love your sense of humor alot. You such a great person to watch and listen to. And those boys of yours are just so handsome. Great work...Happy summer..Love, Lisa

By Lisa O. on June 21, 2011

54321

HEY GAL, I TOO REMEMBER THOSE SUMMERS. WAKING IN THE MORNING AND GETTING THINGS DONE THEN HEADING OUT SIDE AND STAYING TILL THE STREET LIGHT CAME ON. I"D RIDE MY BIKE AND CLOTHES PIN A CARD OR TWO ON THE SPOKES BOY ALL US KIDS COULD REALLY MAKE SOME NOISE WITH 52 CARDS. I LOVED TO WALK DOWN TO THE CORNER STORE AND CASH IN A COUPLE OF SODA BOTTLES AND GET ME AN ICE CREAM. OH YEAS THOSE WERE THE GOOD OLE DAYS. MY GRAND KIDS DONT EVEN KNOW WHAT KICK THE CAN IS OR DITCH EM IS WE ALL LOVED THOSE GAMES AFTER DARK. WELL HOPE YA HAVE A WONDERFUL SUMMER AND JUST MAYBE I CAN GET THESE GRANDKIDS AWAY FROM THE WII AND THE LAP TOP.

By PAULA DOWNS on June 21, 2011

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DEAR PAULA, I AM SO EMBARRSED. I MET YOU A FEW TIMES BUT ABOUT 5-6 MONTHS AGO I TALKED TO YOU AT THE HORSESHOE CASINO IN INDIANA. I WAS THE ONE THAT ASKED IF YOU CAN FREEZE BASIL.REMEMBER? WELL I NEVER TOLD YOU HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU AND NEVER SAID HOW BEAUTIFUL YOU ARE.YOU SAID THAT I WAS BUT I WAS TONGUE TIED AND COULD'NT RESPOND FAST ENOUGH.I LOVE TALKING TO YOU ,YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION TO ME AND TO MILLIONS.THANK YOU PAULA FOR BEING WHO YOU ARE!!!!! IF THERE WAS A CONTEST TO COOK OR BAKE WITH YOU I HOPE I WIN. THANK YOU ANNETTE FELDMAN

By annette feldman on June 21, 2011

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MRS. PAULA DEEN I ENJOYED YOUR STORY.FOURTH OF JULY IS SPENDING TIME WITH LOVE ONES AND FAMILY,GOING TO THE BEACH AND GETTING SUNBURN,BOY I WAS RED LIKE A LOBSTER TO WHEN I WAS A YOUNG GIRL.EATING GOOD FOOD ALSO. ME AND MY SISTER WOULD GO CRABBING ,BOY WE HAD SO MUCH FUN!!THANK YOU KIMBERLY FORSTER

By KIMBERLY FORSTER on June 21, 2011

54321

I grew up in the Ozarks of Ark. and I know the same fun of bike riding, having neighborhood clubs, and the smells and sounds of summer. What I wouldn;t give for just one day of snow cones, popsicles, RC. colas. Times with my own children, fireworks. Yes as someone put it don;t forget why we celebrate the 4th, well the very reason that someone gave us the freedoms, entitles us to spend it with our families. This 4th will be about watermellon, grandbabies, and backyard, sitting on the porch watching fireflies light up the sky and the stars coming out as u dream of those days long ago of your youth. Thanks Paula fpr sharing about yours and the memories u make with little Jack and his new baby brother. God Bless Rosie in Ct.

By Rosie Herdman on June 21, 2011

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Paula, you never cease to amaze me!! I love how and what you write about and it always brings a smile to my heart! I remember those summer days of working with my grandma and grandpa in our HUGE TRUCKPATCH garden. We had two families to feed so we had to grow alot! We would work all day and then grandpa would fix us an ice creme cone with Hershey's chocolate syrup (from a can) and the ice creme and chocolate would get all over our hands...precious memories!! At night we would get big round wash tubs and hull purple hull peas and snap green beans and then the next morning start washing jars so we could can everything from the day before!!! Wonderful memories!!

By Lisa on June 21, 2011

54321

when i was in savannah georgia this winter, i went to the lady & sons store and bought the set of two knives. i love them, they are so sharp and work really well in chopping and dicing. i only wish that i had a cover to put them into. a sleeve of some kind that would protect the edge for getting banged in the drawer. please consider doing a protector of some kind for the knives. thanks.

By mary heath on June 21, 2011

54321

Love the stories of your childhood--but let's not forget the reason for the 4th of July--the birth of our Country--yea America!

By Joyce Petrich on June 21, 2011

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Hi Paula, I really enjoyed reading your story. Your story brought back my own memories. Thanks for all you do. Love ya, Paula and your family

By Christine @ Christine's Pantry on June 21, 2011

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Hi paula I so enjoyed your going back as a child and your summers I wil be 39 this august and my summers were the same as yours! We would ride our bikes until our legs felt like they were going to fall off! We would hike thru the woods n see where we'd come out and most times it would be in someones back yard we knew or a country road we'd peddled down just hours before! I think about all the watermelons that almost bust me open cause I ate so much! Pulling an apple or pear from my grandparents fruit trees! And drinking water right from the water hose when I was thirsty! Lol! Boy how I miss those days! And the 4th oh my! My grandaddy would bbq a pig and my granny would have all the fixings to go along with it! And all the fire crackers we wanted! Just good old simple days and times! Me and my husband talk about those times to our two sons and tell them how fun it was when we were coming up! And also how nowadays how we have gotten away from those good ole simple times now summers for most kids are all about staying in the house where its cool with a video game in their hand! I know times and things change but I would love to start a campaign on summers and getting them back the way they use to be when you and I came up! Which were some wonderful summers!! Love ya Paula! Have a great day!!

By michelle williams on June 21, 2011

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Paula Deen
Paula Deen
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hi! wink i was wondering if you could share the recipe for the chiken/grape salad-the one that is pictured on the croissant above? thanks! wink sandra
Sandra Neuheimer-Huller in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 19, 2014 at 10:37 am

Where do I buy these magazines
in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 8:22 am

I WISH I COULD COOK. COULD I COME WORK FOR JUST ROOM AND BOARD AT YOUR NEW RESTURAUNT IN PIGEON FORGE FOR THE SUMMER? I WENT TO COLLEGE NOT FAR FROM THERE - HIWASSEE COLLEGE. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY ME, I WOULD WORK FOR FREE JUST FOR THE EXPERIENCE. TAMMY LEVAN 19 SPENCER WAY KINGS PARK, NY 11754 HAPPY EASTER! CHRIST IS RISEN!
TAMMY L LEVAN in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 4:31 am

Hi Bubbles, You have some great tips. Can't wait to read your other blogs! Please give Aunt Peggy a big hug from me and here is one for you! (((HUGS))) See you in May!
Jaci Pardun in 10 Quick Household Tips on April 18, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Paula, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who makes Easter Baskets for their adult children and mail them across the United States. My Daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and I not only sent her a basket but her husband and my granddaughter Reese. We also buy special Russel Stover Bunnies for each child too. My husband has the list in his phone... Sara .. Cookies 'n Crème.... Sidney and Stephen.. Peanut Butter Etc. It one of my favorite things to do for my kids.. no matter how old they get. And passing it along to my Grandchildren. It's even more special to me knowing we share a family tradition. Blessings and Happy Easter!!
Sharon Cason-Card in A Basketful of Traditions on April 18, 2014 at 11:03 pm