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The Summer Symphony

The Summer Symphony
Sherry Jennings

"What is so rare as a day in June?" Though one may not be familiar with the poem by James Russell Lowell, a 19th century Boston poet, it is almost impossible not to experience rare June days here in New England — like the three bears' porridge — not too hot, not too cold, just right. These are the June days with an azure sky punctuated with cotton ball clouds, gentle breezes, blossoms, and birds. The air fills with the music of sights, sounds, and smells of the burgeoning earth. Along the wayside, nature offers up her delightful dance of daisies and lupines and the cheery song of cardinals. The earth is carpeted with color as iris, peonies, and fragrant roses parade forth in the garden. In the meadows breezes play over the grasses creating eye-catching waves. Sunlight sparkles on stream and pond. The earth is generous as the symphony of early summer unfolds.

How wonderful for the young child to be bathed in this world of June! The joy of going out unencumbered in shorts, T-shirts, and bare feet. The delight in pouring sand from one hand to another, splashing in water, and filling every pocket with all manner of pebbles and stones. In fact, the child is not just walking over the earth but unconsciously being immersed in it, consuming it, in ways that are not possible for us in the same way as conscious adults. Young children literally become one with the earth — something that can be observed as the bath water drains from the tub at day’s end.

For adults, life continues as it has been — folding laundry, feeding the troops, shopping, cleaning, changing diapers. For children in June, time seems to slow down even as nature is in a time of rapid growth. One can almost watch the leaves unfold and the flowers open. For children too summer is a time of growth. Their bodies grow bigger and stronger as they develop new skills. As the children are dressed in fewer layers, parents can almost see their limbs grow longer and know that by September clothes will no longer fit. As toddlers’ bodies grow, nourished by digging and splashing, jumping and running, their inner life is also being fed by their outside adventures. The children are learning about life as nature reveals her secrets to them through their sense impressions. They are busy seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching.

As parents and teachers, we also need to be nourished in our inner lives. By slowing down with the children, taking time to observe and listen, we too can hear the secrets the earth is whispering to us.

As James Russell Lowell continues:

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
...
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;

So why not join your young children in these rare June days? Go outside and soak up what nature has to offer. Your children do this naturally. If this is not already a habit you have, you may need to decide to do it consciously. But don’t miss what June has to offer to you. Go slowly! Take time to hear what murmurs and see what glistens!

  • Sit on the beach and pour warm sand from one hand to another.
  • As you walk in the water at a lake or the ocean, skim each foot across the surface and watch the round drops rise and cascade down.
  • Stop by the roadside and see the wave patterns on the grasses as the breezes change direction.
  • Watch for the first firefly of the season.
  • Stand outside under the full moon before heading off to bed.
  • Find a berry patch and experience the sweet taste of summer.
  • Delight in the dance of the dragonflies as they dip and fly.
  • Make a daisy chain crown for your toddler.
  • Sit beside a campfire and watch the flames twist and twirl.
  • Gather fallen flower petals, crush them in water with a stone, then dye a piece of cheese cloth, gauze, or piece of an old cotton T-shirt. Hang it to dry then stitch it into a tiny pouch.
  • Take up gardening even if it is only one tomato plant in a pot. Getting one’s hands in the dirt is very grounding and can contribute to reducing anxiety and elevating one’s mood. Eating a tomato you have grown yourself feeds your soul as well as your body.
  • Offer gratitude to the earth for her wonders.

Have fun and enjoy the symphony of summer!

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