What is a Summer for but Daydreaming, Play, and Rest? July 08 2016
In the early chapters of the American classic, Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, we find young Tom out in the woods near his home, playacting with his friends the legendary tales of Robin Hood: robbing from the rich, giving to the poor, avoiding the deadly arrows of the Sheriff of Nottingham, tricking the upper classes with clever stunts and disguises, and swooning in love for Maid Marian.It is summer time when Tom takes on this concentrated fantasy and larks around among the trees with his pals, transformed through imagination alone into Sherwood Forest hundreds of years in the past. There is no school to interfere with this important agenda. Chores are a minor annoyance to be dispatched to get on with the real stuff of life: Play. We are, as the poet Schiller indicated, the most human when we are at play.
And summertime is the very time to play often and play diligently! With the warmth of the sun and the mighty, teeming forces of growth all around us, taking time to drink in sunlight and smell the rich scents of the burgeoning Earth restores the soul like nothing else can.
Giving young people lots of time to sit and read a book, or throw twigs in a stream, or swing legs over a porch or a dock, to sing softly to one’s self while thinking of nothing in particular, is a gift for life of relaxing, pondering, hanging out with the family or with friends. Growth, contemplation, and swinging through the warm summer days are what we all want once the weather turns warm.
The singer-songwriter, Dave Mallet, originally from Maine, wrote a song about haying in the summer that sums it up nicely:
When the raspberry bursts from the woodbine
When the summer lies close to the ground
When the porch is the cool place where all boys should sleep
When the brook in the hollow dies down...
It’s the time of clover and killdeer
It’s the time when the earth does her best,
It’s when all men are strong and
You know when to rise and you know when to rest
In the cool of the evening I perch on the load
And let the wagon wind blow through my hair
And I count all the stars and I talk to the moon
And I sing to myself in the sweet summer air.
So, everyone, let the summer in: wade in a stream barefoot, play Pooh sticks from a bridge over that stream, walk through a meadow filled with grass and blossoms, notice the brave flowers that grow through the cracks in the sidewalk, bounce a ball against a wall, sit in the shade, and idle a bit while talking about significant details of ordinary life. School is done and leisure time is here. Lounge a little while and play. Play. Play. Play!