Thursday, August 25, 2011

Guest Post by Quinn Barrett, Author of Invisible Snow

I am very excited to welcome Quinn Barrett to Jo-Jo Loves to Read today!  I love novels that delve into family relationships and that is exactly what Invisible Snow promises to do, laced with a bit of greed and betrayal to make it even more exciting!  You can read all about the novel here, but for now I just want to embrace the little bit of summer that we have left.

Personally, summer is my very favorite season and the perfect summer day for me is spending time at the lake with good friends and family, just chillaxing!  Since I am bringing my daughter back to college this weekend it kind of marks the end of summer for me, which really makes a sadness settle in my heart.  So I will use all that I can to keep summer alive for as long as possible!  Today Quinn Barrett has been gracious enough to share some of her favorite summer memories with us and here is what she has to say:

Memories of Laguna Beach

by Quinn Barrett

The roar of the emerald ocean waves seems amplified in the small inlet of Laguna Beach, California.  A symphony of summer sounds: children playing, people talking, outbreaks of laughter and yelling, scratchy transistor radio music, and random seagull caws, but nothing can match the constant percussion of waves--the beat of a perfect summer day.
As children, my siblings and I would swim and play in the waves for hours while my mother worshipped the sun and my father scuba dived for abalone in the thick kelp beds or body surfed in the big waves.  We were all good swimmers, but my father taught us the best techniques for diving under waves, swimming with the current and avoiding rip tides.
Sunscreen didn't exist back then and we would all pay the price later in the evening, but nobody complained.  The heat and glow of the mild burn was a reminder of a good day spent together.
Nobody in my family had skin suitable for tanning, but that didn't stop us from trying.  If we had known then what we know now about harmful UV rays and skin cancer, we might not have tried so hard.  But in a family that constantly struggled to find common ground, having the darkest shade of a reddish-beige tint was a badge of honor and a real feat given our Irish/English ancestry.  No one wanted to be the palest of the family (usually me), but in a bizarre way the pursuit of summer skin color was a unifying family goal.  It gave us something to talk about between beach outings.
There are a lot of beaches to choose from growing up in Southern California.  Santa Monica was closer and Newport was bigger.  Once in a while we'd go to Huntington Beach, but Laguna has an intimacy about it.  We were a perfect family, on a perfect summer day, at a perfect beach.
One summer we went practically every Saturday.  Monday thru Friday was torture waiting for Saturday to return.  We'd get everything ready the night before so we could leave early Saturday morning to secure the best spot on the beach for our crew.  My mother would pack sandwiches for lunch and hot dogs for dinner which we would roast on straightened wire clothes hangers.  We'd feast on potato salad, chips, watermelon and s'mores for dessert.
We'd sleep on each other's shoulder during the hour-long ride home, exhausted from the day's activity.  Once home we regained consciousness enough to shower and lay out our clothes for Sunday School—a sure indication the fun portion of the weekend was concluded.
My family never took a lot of summer vacations.  Money was always an issue with five young children, but the real reason extended trips were a rarity, was my parents could barely agree upon anything, including rest and relaxation.  My father preferred hiking and camping, but that meant cooking and cleaning without the benefit of modern appliances to my mother.  My mother preferred a luxury hotel with spa and poolside services.  I guess Laguna Beach was their idea of a compromise.
Laguna Beach is home to an annual summer arts festival.  The highlight of the event is The Pageant of the Masters.  Live models recreate famous masterpieces such as Da Vinci's The Last Supper or a classic Norman Rockwell scene.  Occasionally my father was able to score last-minute tickets at reduced prices for the entire family.  Even my hyperactive brothers were enthralled by this spectacular cultural display.
But my favorite summer memory of Laguna was a small ice cream stand half a block from the beach.  When my father was done body surfing or using his scuba gear, he'd take my siblings and me for a mid-afternoon snack . . . not to get ice cream, but something better—a frozen banana rolled in thick dark chocolate and diced almonds.  To this day, whenever I see a frozen banana anywhere, I think of Laguna Beach.
Summer trips to Laguna Beach is a tradition I've continued with my family.  We don't go as frequently and we've learned the importance of beach umbrellas, wearing sunscreen, and protective clothing, but the magic of this relatively small parcel of sand is still there.
My parents' marriage didn't last, but for those few days each summer of my childhood there was fun, love and unity for my dysfunctional family.  Like hearing an old song on the radio that immediately reminds you of a person, a place, an event or experience—the sound of crashing waves takes me back to those perfect summer days at Laguna Beach.

**End of guest post.**

Thank you Quinn for stopping by and sharing this beautiful memory with us today!  I absolutely love beach vacations and I could just feel the sand in my toes as I was reading this!  I live in Northern Wisconsin and I have mentioned to my husband that I would enjoy taking a nice vacation to a quiet California beach sometime in the future.  Laguna Beach sounds like the perfect destination!


Ti said...

First off, I'm not sure when you changed it, but I like the blog template you are using. The "jewels" caught my eye!

I'm with you on summer. Summer is this wonderful time.. lazy picnics, concerts in the park, movies at the aquatic center, reading in the shade of one of my giant trees with a cold glass of iced tea in hand. Sigh.

Here in So Cal, it stays hot here until about mid-Oct so technically, it feels like summer but with the kids in school, it's really not.

bermudaonion said...

What wonderful memories!

Cristina said...

Frozen chocolate bananas. Awesome summer treat! Good post!