Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Are You Ready for the Summer?

As the euphoria of the "last day of school" washes over school children everywhere, I hold an even sweeter memory of a childhood in rural America.

We lived next door to a fruit orchard, one of many in an otherwise desert town in Eastern Washington (the owner was so smart: he made us feel like it was COOL to get to help change the sprinklers!). We gathered culls of peaches that kept us in "peaches and cream" for breakfast during the entire month of August. Aaaaaahhhh…. Walking home from the bus stop on a cool fall day, we could stop and pick a crisp apple to munch all the way up the hill. On a hot day, the forests of orchards surrounding our house created a sharp drop in temperature, keeping us cool during blazing arid summers.

When June arrived and the rustle of paper work slowed down during that last week of school, I found myself with no homework, TV reruns, a stuffy house, plenty of daylight, and nothing to do. So I created a ritual that would last until I graduated from high school. At least once each June, I would hop the fence to the orchard, settle on the side of a shady tree-covered hill, lay down, wrap my arms behind my head, take a long look across the valley, and dream about my future.

I may have conducted a few imaginary appearances on the Mike Douglas or Merv Griffin shows during these lazy afternoons, I really don't remember the dreams much -- I expect there were many and they were no doubt grandiose. But I'll never forget the coolness of the ground, the protection and peace of the trees, the sweet smells, and the joy of solitude. Those afternoons taught me to value moments of reflection and calm and to grab them whenever you can. Great scenery helps.

As you prepare for your summer, I hope you'll find some cool moments of reflection. Hey, school's almost over. As the kids say, "Chill"!

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