Thursday, July 24, 2008

Is Summer Vacation over already?

This is one of my favorite pictures of my sister on vacation. It was taken a few years ago, in St. Lucia. You can see one of the Pitons in the background. We had taken a day trip into town and was returning to our remote hotel by boat. It was stormy and a little rainy and the ride was bumpy but fun.

Remember the good ol’ days when ‘the summer vacation period’ was defined as Memorial Day until Labor Day? Well, at least in my area of the country, summer vacation now consists of the months of June and July. Oh wait, take June away if you have children in sports or play an instrument and June is filled with tournaments, team obligations and competitions. August is also taken away due to the startups of these similar activities as well as the crazy, required school registrations a week or two before school begins. Just as the old rule of only wearing white shoes from Memorial Day to Labor Day has almost been abandoned, so has the true definition of summer.

This leaves glorious July for families to reunite, bond and try to relax together. You are screwed if you have important career responsibilities in this month. And you have to make vacation plans earlier and probably pay a premium for a rental in this prized month. Maybe you can extend the vacation period in the last week in June or the first week in August, if you’re clever. Personally, I think summer vacation is undervalued in this country and I think it stinks that we have such a shortened family-time together! We need a better balance between the summer and winter and all the experiences each provide. Poets have been writing about this balance for years. My favorite one is ‘Summer’ by Amy Lowell (see below, if you’re interested). For the past 16 years that I have children in school, I have ranted and complained to anyone within close vicinity to me about the lost glory days of summer. Now that all my children will be attending college or working what will I rant and complain about? (Don’t worry, I’ll think of something!) I trust this discussion and complaint will be addressed by some of the clever younger, Mommy bloggers out there in the future. Rant on, ladies!

Summer by Amy Lowell
Some men there are who find in nature all
Their inspiration, hers the sympathy
Which spurs them on to any great endeavor,
To them the fields and woods are closest friends,
And they hold dear communion with the hills;
The voice of waters soothes them with its fall,
And the great winds bring healing in their sound.
To them a city is a prison house
Where pent up human forces labour and strive,
Where beauty dwells not, driven forth by man;
But where in winter they must live until
Summer gives back the spaces of the hills.
To me it is not so. I love the earth
And all the gifts of her so lavish hand:
Sunshine and flowers, rivers and rushing winds,
Thick branches swaying in a winter storm,
And moonlight playing in a boat's wide wake;
But more than these, and much, ah, how much more,
I love the very human heart of man.
Above me spreads the hot, blue mid-day sky,
Far down the hillside lies the sleeping lake
Lazily reflecting back the sun,
And scarcely ruffled by the little breeze
Which wanders idly through the nodding ferns.
The blue crest of the distant mountain, tops
The green crest of the hill on which I sit;
And it is summer, glorious, deep-toned summer,
The very crown of nature's changing year
When all her surging life is at its full.
To me alone it is a time of pause,
A void and silent space between two worlds,
When inspiration lags, and feeling sleeps,
Gathering strength for efforts yet to come.
For life alone is creator of life,
And closest contact with the human world
Is like a lantern shining in the night
To light me to a knowledge of myself.
I love the vivid life of winter months
In constant intercourse with human minds,
When every new experience is gain
And on all sides we feel the great world's heart;
The pulse and throb of life which makes us men!