Summer is my season. My whole being leans toward it all through the rest of the year. I feel I have to squeeze in enough of the good life in these brief hot months to last me the other three quarters of the year.
Some of that is the heat. I know I’m weird but I love the heat. The sticky wall of hot air that hits me when I leave an air-conditioned building is like welcoming arms.
I love the feeling of sunshine on my skin and wearing flip-flops practically 24/7. I love the longer days and the sense that all the world outdoors is showing off and we dare not miss a minute of it that we can reasonably stand.
I love days spent in the back yard and cooling my feet in my daughter’s kiddie pool. I love catching fireflies and puttering in my garden.
It’s a part of my programming to slow down in the summer and make time to be outside as much as possible.
In fact, I have considered myself an expert in enjoying summer’s simple pleasures for so long that I was literally stopped in my tracks the other day when my daughter provided a little reminder that some small joys do not come to those who laze in hammocks reading.
We were bustling around one morning, everybody getting their shorts on over swimsuits, me filling water bottles and rushing to get outside.
I was taking a shortcut around the dining room table and almost ran right over Lyla, who was standing perfectly still and staring with her mouth open at the ceiling.
“Lyla!” I exclaimed, “what on earth are you doing?”
“Look, Mommy!” she shouted, “a rainbow! Let’s dance under it.”
I looked up and, indeed, the morning sunlight was hitting the prisms of the light fixture so that the whole room was canopied in tiny rainbows.
I didn’t want to dance under the rainbows, I wanted to get outside and read in the hammock. But forcing a toddler to do anything non-essential before they are ready is somewhat akin to poking an angry bear in the woods — you just don’t do it. So, we danced around the dining room table.
For Lyla, this meant going in circles in a sort of two-footed jumping shuffle, half stooped with her arms bent like wings flapping and her smiling face turned upward toward the rainbows.
There was a song involved in her little dance, too, but for the life of me I can’t tell you how it went — it made no sense to anybody over 3 feet tall, but it included magic wands and a couple “sha-boom sha-booms.”
And, as I’m sure you’ve heard, if there’s a sha-boom involved and you’re dancing, it’s impossible to avoid being filled with joy. No hammock required.
She has afforded me several opportunities these past weeks to dig deeper into the summer adventures that I relegate to the realm of childhood all too easily.
I have been forced to get down on the concrete to make sidewalk chalk drawings, but in doing so I recalled all kinds of silly things I used to doodle whenever I had a pen and paper and a wandering mind.
When playing with bubbles, I have stepped back to my own ancient times and remembered building “bubble castles” on the sidewalk and building them as big as I could get them, then trying to invent a use for each of the bubble “rooms.” (Even my husband was impressed with that one.)
I’ve neglected my weeding to build sandcastles with seashells for doors and windows (and dump trucks as inhabitants — don’t ask me, I just build ’em). The garden was no worse off and I smiled for weeks every time more sand fell out of some article of clothing as I threw it into the laundry.
The other day we were “painting” faces onto the side of the house with water and brushes and trying to mimic them with our own faces. I, of course, was trying to get her to identify what characteristics made a face “angry” rather than “sad.”
She, of course, was making a silly face with her tongue sticking out for everything I drew and then laughing. At one point she grabbed my cheeks and said, “Mommy. Make the face.” Then she squished my cheeks together and laughed so hard she literally rolled on the ground.
It was such a great moment of her teaching me. To her, in everything we do all day long, the goal is to laugh, to have fun, to see just how much joy we can fit in a day — not because we’re trying to make up for the rest of the year, but because if you’re not doing it that way, what’s the point?
Somewhere much deeper in me than memory, I recall feeling that way as a kid. Especially in summer.
I don’t know when it stopped occurring to me to live that way, but this summer I’m glad I have somebody pushing me to remember every day — somebody under 3 feet tall halting me in my tracks and reminding me I’m not too old to “sha-boom” under the rainbows.