"Remember when we were kids and summers lasted forever,” Frank, my husband asked with nostalgia as we floated in our kayaks on the lake this past Sunday. It was the perfect lazy summer day in all its cloudless blue-sky glory and that’s when summer officially began for me.
Technically, summer officially begins on Thursday, June 21st - the longest day of the year. It is the one day the sun dilly-dallies because it thinks it has forever. And, that feeling of “forever” is what summers were like when I was a child. It seems that feeling is also true for others.
But then we grow up and summers speed by in a matter of seconds. Why is that? Why does summer seem to go faster as we grow older? There are many theories that explain the perception of time and why it appears to travel more quickly as we progress in years. The online magazine, “Scientific American” offers one thought on the issue, “…our brains encode new experiences, but not familiar ones, into memory, and our retrospective judgment of time is based on how many new memories we create over a certain period.”
The article further explains that from childhood to early adulthood, we experience new and exciting adventures for the first time and we learn many new skills. When we become adults, we crowd our lives with busy routine and we experience fewer unfamiliar moments.
So, I have decided to do an experiment this summer and act like a kid with the hopes that the summer might appear to last a little bit longer.
I know it may seem like an oxymoron, but I have already “scheduled” free time in my calendar. As a child, I experienced a lot of free time – and in fact, I even had a few moments of boredom. But this is when I discovered ants carrying objects bigger than their bodies, heard the call of a whip-poor-will for the first time and realized there was this thing called the Milky Way - and it wasn’t a chocolate bar.
On days when boredom seized me, I hopped on my bike with friends and we explored the surrounding wheat fields, back country roads and streams. It was fascinating to see firsthand the main ingredient for bread or discover how snakes slither across the road and to see tadpoles before they became frogs. I had no plans, I just showed up.
So, wish me luck with my experiment to slow summertime down and grab the childlike wonder of my youth. I will do my best to make the familiar, unfamiliar again and to rediscover my surroundings, as if I am seeing them for the first time. If you want to join me in this effort, please do.
Perhaps we can rediscover together all the amazing ways our small-town communities are alive – by just showing up without expectations. If you are up to it – join me in one of the bounce houses this Saturday at the 2018 Windham Summerfest. I’ll race you.