I remember spending hours on my bike – riding around my neighbourhood – sometimes playing with or hanging out with my friends, from school or the neighbourhood. I remember spending days at my grandmother’s house – we spent a lot of time there anyway, but in the summer, sometimes we would go for a week or two – and she’d take us to the lake and to the neighbourhood restaurant for fried chicken.
At some point in the summer we’d go to the beach – now, I grew up in Panama, so going to the beach is part of day to day living, but the beach in the summer means long days, and no schedules – looking for hermit crabs and admiring the sunset…
Summer for us also meant a bit of structure: there was swimming lessons or tennis – a couple summers I went to art school, so it wasn’t all play, but a good mix of organized activities and unstructured play. I learned a lot from both and remember both fondly.
Now I have kids of my own and they’ve never had too much of a structure in the summer. It just hasn’t worked that way. But we live in a place where they can spend all day on their bikes, or they can go into the forest, or down to the river. They can spend all day kicking a soccer ball or throwing a basket ball. They do spend sometime playing video games, but in our case, most of the time is spent outside.
Summer for us means taking it outside. Our back deck becomes our living and dining room. Our BBQ becomes our kitchen and the breeze blowing through the trees gives us dinnertime music.
I don’t know if you’re reading this thinking that I am nuts 'cause your summers are not at all what I am describing, but no matter what your summers were or are like, I hope that they mean a change of pace. I hope that they mean that you can look at the world from behind your bicycle’s handlebars and not from behind your desk; that you can process the world by sitting under a tree with a good book and not through the voice of your teacher or boss. So here’s to change of pace, to slowing down. Here’s to summer!