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The Jacksons – for Aug. 27, 2009

“Man, is it hot.” Jennifer Jackson rolled over on her beach blanket

and rested her head on her arms as the sun beat down on her back. Jennifer’s mother, Rose, looked up from the book she had been reading as she lay stretched out on her lounger. The shouts of children playing in the water, the noise of people talking and laughing, and somewhere down the beach a boom box playing a rather tiresome reggae tune, all brought her back to the reality she had been happily avoiding for the past hour.

“You look like you’re getting a bit burnt, sweetheart,” she said. “Might be time to reapply the sunscreen.”

“I’m fine Mom,” said Jennifer. She glanced over at her friend Kendra who was stretched out on her back on the same blanket, her eyes shut to block out the blazing sun, even behind her quite hip and trendy sunglasses. “You are getting roasted Kendra,” she said.

“Mmm.” Kendra didn’t sound worried. “It’s almost the middle of August,” she said, not bothering to open her eyes, “and it’s finally hot and sunny. What’s the point if you can’t at least get a little sunburn?”

“That’s how I look at it,” said Jennifer.

“What’s that old saying?” said Rose. “It’s all fun and games till somebody loses an eye or gets melanoma?”

“Oh Mom, do you have to be so dramatic?” Jennifer sounded annoyed, but she did sit up and reach for the sunscreen. “I’m almost ready for another swim,” she said.

Kendra opened her eyes. “Me too,” she said, lifting her head to watch a tall dark-haired boy of about 18 run by on his way to join a group of friends down the beach somewhere. “Wow,” she said. “Cute!”

Jennifer followed her friend’s gaze without comment as she squeezed sunscreen onto her palm and then began to apply it to her legs. “I hereby solemnly swear,” she said, “that as soon as I finish school I am moving somewhere warm where I never have to wear a parka again till the day I die.”

Kendra lazily extended a hand. “Pinky swear,” she said. “I’m coming with you.”

Rose lay back on her lounger and sighed. “Ah the optimism of youth,” she said. “If only it were so simple.”

“What’s complicated about it?” Jennifer wanted to know.

“Just everything,” said Rose. “I mean really, if it was that simple to leave, who would live here in the winter?”

“My dad would,” said Kendra. “He wouldn’t live anyplace where they didn’t have curling, no matter how warm it was.”

“Yeah you’re probably right,” said Jennifer. “My dad’s the same way.”

“Your dad would live wherever I live,” said Rose. “Curling or no curling.”

“So how come we still live here?” asked Jennifer.

Rose laughed. “The older you are the more complicated it gets,” she said.

“Seriously,” said Kendra, “that’s why I’m going in for all the computer courses I can. Once I get out of school, I’m going to get a job that I can do online so I can live anywhere I want. Well, at least anywhere they have Internet.”

“Wow, you have it all planned out eh?” said Rose. “Well the only thing you have to avoid then, is falling in love with some hog farmer from Winkler.”

Kendra snorted. “That shouldn’t be too hard to avoid,” she said.

Jennifer laughed out loud. “Apparently your mom couldn’t avoid it!” she joked. “Maybe it’s not as easy as you think!”

“My dad was a hog farmer from Schanzenfeld,” said Kendra. “Not Winkler.”

Jennifer laughed again. “Well that’s different then,” she said.

“Totally,” said Kendra, laughing as well. “And anyway I don’t plan to fall in love till I’m at least 30. By that time I’ll be all set up and making lots of money and everything.”

“Well you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a man if you’re making lots of money,” said Rose.

“A lot of hog farmers around Winkler would probably find that real attractive just about now, eh?” said Jennifer. She laughed again, then tossed the tube of sunscreen down onto the blanket and jumped up. “I’m going in!” she said. “I’ll race you!” and a moment later the two girls were racing across the sand and headlong into the cold lake water.

Rose sat for a moment watching them, thinking about joining them, but then, deciding against it, she turned back to her book. Maybe later. For now, she would devote her time to soaking up as much heat as possible. After all, summer doesn’t last forever.

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