by Niki Turner
Those long, hot, slow summer days must have been a figment of my childhood imagination. Lazy hours outside with warm sunlight filtering through the fluttering aspen leaves overhead, my radio tuned to the Top 40 station and my book-of-the-moment in hand, have become a distant memory.
What changed? I still have the book-of-the-moment (hardbacks, paperback and now, a Kindle) and I've exchanged the old radio (the kind with the antenna and the dial that had to be manually moved to the appropriate station, remember those?) for an MP3 player. I still have aspen trees outside my house, and a porch, and the sun is still present. But something is different.
Is it housework? My kids? My job? Errands to run? Bills to pay? Meals to shop for and prepare? A wicked combination of all of the above that have conspired to rob me of the simple pleasures of summer? Obviously, I have more responsibilities these days. I have demands on my time and energy I didn't have back then. But I don't think that's the root of the problem.
Somewhere between adolescence and adulthood I unwittingly accepted a membership in the Short on Time Society. The S.T.S. boasts millions of lifetime members. Everywhere we go we promote our group: When people ask how we are, our answer is almost always some variation on "busy."
In case you haven't noticed, "busy" is not conducive to drowsy afternoons in the hammock with a tall glass of sweet tea.
The painful truth? For the most part, I choose how I spend my time. I choose whether or not my kids are signed up for 17 different summer activities, all of which will require me to chauffeur them to and from multiple locations throughout the day. I choose how many invitations I accept, saying 'yes' to volunteer projects and assignments and social events, even when I could (and probably should) say 'no.'
Since becoming an adult, all too often I let my summer days (and then weeks, and then months) get away from me by living according to the urgent, instead of planning and prioritizing to prevent futile busyness and carve out time for the things that matter, the things that make summer a time of refreshing ... like lazily wiling away an afternoon with a great novel and a pitcher of frosty lemonade.
What summer pleasures would you like to restore to your grown-up summer season?