Carefree summer days


Coming up in just a few days is the longest day of the year, also known as the summer solstice. Of course, it’s certainly felt like summer here for weeks already, but now the heavens are catching up to what we’ve known all along.

Right now we are enjoying the longest days of the year, but after the 21st that will start to reverse just a few minutes each day until the winter solstice in December when daylight is short and nights are long. (And it’s easy to be cranky as we head into winter anticipating many short days with early sunsets.)

For children in this area, summer started last month when school dismissed for the summer. And so begins freedom from school, an endless, uncluttered time that stretches out ahead of them in a happy scenario to pursue whatever they want to do with their time. Of course, one’s parents may well have their own ideas about how that time is managed, but even so it seems to me that feeling of freedom is a delicious sensation for most children. Especially in these techy, over-scheduled, too-often-stressful times in which we live, it’s important for children to have that while they can, I believe.

Summer isn’t always so carefree for parents, however, as they coordinate day care, jobs, ball games, ball practices, time with friends and family for both parents and children, and on and on. The phrase “summer time, and the living is easy” too often becomes a joke.

It is a rude awakening the day that the summer vacation from school ends, when one is no longer a student anywhere and has a full-time job outside of education. Summer is much like the other seasons then, with no long, lazy days to enjoy. Perhaps that is one mark of being a real grown-up.

Some of the summer camps where I’ve been have had an abundance of teachers on staff, and I sometimes wondered if they went into teaching so they could have their summers off to be on summer camp staff. As I consider it now, I expect that most of them were excellent at both teaching and camp.

So here’s to what we can hope is a long, lovely summer ahead of us, with plenty of time to appreciate the season in whatever is our favorite way. As James Dent put it, “A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.”