Jan was my first best friend. We became close friends when she and I were 5. I lived 6 houses down and across the street from her. Perhaps some wondered why we became friends, as we were so different. Tall for my age, I was big to her little. She was quick and birdlike. I was the slower one who always felt apologetic for my height. Despite our differences, maybe because of them, we became instant friends. I think it may have been because we were both “tom boys” and enjoyed spending most our time outdoors. In the summer, we would race out the door after breakfast. We would spend the long days riding our bikes in the hot, humid Iowa sun. When we’d come home for dinner we were tired and tan from the hours spent outside. We smelled like the summer: popsicles and sunscreen; sweat and happiness. Our hair would become lightened and freckles scattered on our faces by the long days in the sun. Those summers were times of innocence. They were a time in our lives when the only thing concerning us was how we could fill those endless summer days. Summers seemed to be an eternity at that age and we never looked past the next day. Those times were a gift. They became the stuff of memories to file away; to recall when we got a bit older, when life was not so innocent and pure. It is rare now for children to spend their days outside in the summer. On those scarce occasions when I witness a young girl or boy doing so, I am vividly reminded of childhood happiness-- of simply living a summer day in the sunshine.