Lazy Days of Summer
With the summer sun and frequent rains this year the plants are growing and fruiting, offering a feast for the senses — colors, shapes, tastes, and smells. Birds offer sweet melodies, bees buzz, dragonflies swoop and sail, and the crickets and katydids sing into the night. The earth is fully awake, alive in New England in the summer.
At the same time, as human beings we may find ourselves growing a bit sleepy. As the days grow hotter and the humidity higher, we tend to slow down, take life a bit easier. Our list of tasks for the day may be usurped by a trip to a lake for swimming or a picnic lunch under the shade of an apple tree. The children may sleep in a little; you may sit a while sipping your morning coffee as you watch the hummingbirds sip from their feeder. Though there are still meals to prepare and laundry to fold, in due time it all gets completed. It is not just a cute song; there is a reality to the “Lazy, hazy days of summer.”
Within this slowed down pace of living, there can be moments to savor, to relish. If we take the time to gather a blanket, a few picture books and snacks, a delightful afternoon can be spent in the backyard shade. A trip to the beach with ice cream for dinner may be just the thing for a steamy day. This slowed down pace of the adults gives the children permission to slow down, to refresh, to recharge and even to grow. Growth spurts often occur in the summer. Parents may not see the changes as they are with the children every day. However, they are shocked at the differences when they bring out the long pants and sweaters as the coolness of autumn begins to settle in.
I had such a time to savor this summer. I spent an entire day with my adult daughter beside a crystal clear, cold, snow-fed mountain river. We watched a mother duck swim upstream and then back down with her six ducklings. Five of them followed right behind as she took them to a sheltered place in the reeds to feed. Number six went off exploring on her own into some bushes. Suddenly she realized she had been left behind and rapidly paddlewheeled her little feet to catch up. We both chuckled at the same time at this comic image. We watched the pure white clouds sail over and the moving sun change the shadow patterns on the trees. We soaked our feet in the icy river imagining that just a few weeks earlier the water had been 15 feet of snow on the peaks of the Sierras. We observed the swirls and splashes as the river raced over the rocks and we climbed over the granite boulders at the water’s edge. A feast of a day!
One of my favorite children’s stories is Frederick by Leo Lionni. Frederick is a mouse who lives with his family. As summer draws to a close all of the mice except Frederick scurry around gathering food for the winter ahead. Not Frederick. He sits and stares. When questioned, he replies, “I am gathering colors.” After all, are not colors as important for us as soup and sandwiches!
As you slow down in the coming hot, humid days, look for moments of color that you can carry into next winter. Perhaps it will be watching a bee sip nectar, a butterfly hatch from its chrysalis, a field of grass blown by the wind, a bouquet of flowers you have grown yourself, a trip to see relatives, a picnic at a nearby lake at sunset, staying up late to watch for shooting stars, observing a hill of ants moving their eggs after being disturbed. Whatever it is, slow down and be prepared to be amazed at the world.
Maybe one of these moments will even appear in a bedtime story on some cold, frosty night.
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