Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Summer Will End Soon Enough

Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well. ~George R.R. Martin

When I remember my own childhood it is always summer: barefoot, usually with neighborhood kids, and nobody telling us what to do except on Sundays when we still had to get dressed up for church. We swung in the rope hammock that dad had hung between two trees or we would be down in a roadside ditch racing leaves in streams of stormwater or crowding into a hideout scaring one another by repeating stories that older children had told us. We would leave our houses in the morning, fill them with adventures, with nothing at all, sleep, then do it all again in an endless parade of days.

School was a long ago thing, a distant future thing, a non-existent thing. What was real were these days, one after another, one blurring into another, days of running through lawn sprinklers, racing bicycles, daring ourselves, un-boring ourselves. If you ran across someone's lawn at full speed, you barely felt the pain of the thorny blackberries that invaded the grass, but if you sauntered, you felt it. The same went for going barefoot on the hot pavement. As we got older and older we roamed farther and farther. The days were long, the summer was long, and we did what we wanted outside in the sun.

If there is a natural habitat for children, it's summertime. We are not made for being always busy, with necessary things to do according to a clocks, things we have imposed upon us, time as a commodity that must be measured and used, never wasted. Looking back, I now see what a precious thing a childhood summer is. We only get a dozen or so real summers, if we're lucky, if we don't have adults who are convinced that we must "improve" ourselves or be productive or keep in practice. They're gone soon enough, those days that exist throughout the rest of our lives as mere memories of blessed idleness and freedom. They are gone too soon to allow misguided adults to rob us of them with schedules and goals. We are made for contemplating motes, playing stories, frightening ourselves, digging in the dirt, and living in forts.

Indeed summer is the natural habitat for all humans, whatever our age, not just children, and we spend our lives trying to return to it. Live it while it's here. Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.

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