The bungalows were scrupulously repainted two-tone each and every
year. In spring, when restocking for the coming summer, Charlie, the
colony owner, purchased whichever exterior paint color was the least
expensive-usually red or blue. This was mixed with white paint, the
result a lighter pastel shade- pink or a variation of turquoise-somewhat
like the cast of the small shanties and cottages in the Caribbean. Funny,
but I remembered this the last time I was in the Bahamas and secretly
wondered if the Bahamian women had a hot mah-jongg game underway. The
pastel color extended from the ground halfway to the roof, then it turned
to white. Every Memorial Day weekend, my brother and I would wager on
what color the bungalows had been painted for the coming summer.
Pink mixed with red and orange, the sky ablaze, at evening's vesper,
as we strolled from bungalow to bungalow, the coals still glowing red
in some bar-b-queues. Sometimes we were fortunate enough to stumble
upon a friend's mother replete with an unopened bag of Campfire marshmallows,
and quickly, sharpened sticks in hand, we'd skewer the cottony white
puffs and toast them golden over the dying embers.
Evening was aglow with the illumination of three dozen colored light
bulbs, strung in sequence along the colony road-front. Red, yellow,
blue, orange, violet, green--each like a small, wondrous planet set
against the mat of the inky blue and star-studded Catskill night.
There was the slick, caramel brown of the bungalow's knotty pine walls,
and the milky white of the paint that was slathered halfway up every
tree to discourage infestation of bugs and pests. I remember the contrasting
orange and white of an ice-cold Creamsickle melting away on a warm July
afternoon, and the basic black of every inflated inner tube we ever
carted off to the swimming pool. The salmon-orange of salamanders scurrying
on the blacktop after a rain, and the deep brown of a glass of Crowley's
chocolate milk poured creamy and cold from the fridge. There was the
lush, vivid green of the high summer lawn, and the fading yellow-green
of stains on your shorts and tee shirts from rolling around, or playing
ball, or wrestling on the grass. There was the apple-lobster red of
each and every painful sunburn, and the opposing white of gobs of awful
smelling Noxema. The swimming pool, it's bottom painted blue, shown
like a pristine sea amidst the verdant stand of birch and pine. The
light in August was warm and pure and cast all around us in the soft
glow of candlelight on copper, fixing it forever in memory, a reservoir
against the pull of time.
They say we dream in black and white. Not me. When I dream of the
days when we were younger and innocent and all things were possible,
it's always of summer, and it's always in Technicolor.