A while back, I wrote a little summer song for a group of children.
“Golden sun, you are my friend
You shine so bright each day.
You hide your face behind the moon
To rest for a brand new day.”
Isn’t this a picture of summer radiance, and the spirit of children and adults during the long hot days?
Summer is a time for us to exhale, to breathe out all that goodness and juice and spread our seeds far and wide. At no other time in the year are we so full of life and exuberance and joy for living. Summertime is not a time for introspection, or navel gazing. (Most of us abhor such a thing!) We want to stretch our arms and our hearts towards the sun that nourishes our very being.
Depending on where you live, the summer temperatures can be draining and make us long to lie sloth-like on cool verandas. Luckily for many of us, summertime is a period of vacation and we are well within our rights to languish for hour after hour, book in hand and cool beverage in arm’s reach. Our children delight in an abundance of hours outside, free to explore and dig and ride and hunt for treasure and insects. Meals are simple, requiring limited preparation and offering instant reward. Light, life-filled foods such as warm salads, chilled soups, raw stalks of sweet corn, fruity ice pops, bowls of red cherries and chunks of cold watermelon just dripping in juice symbolize summer’s willing abundance.
Nights are welcome relief, cooling us down and relaxing us further. A summer slumber is deep and truly restful, our physical outdoor activity a precursor to an extended time in the land of Nod. Like the sun, we too rest behind the moon, hiding our faces from the light and building up our strength for a new day.
Life seems to slow a little in summer. There is time to cook, to sit with a book, to chat with friends over late-night gelati, to ponder and to watch the sun set. Summer is the one time of the year where the warmth of the late afternoon rays on my back encourages me to stop and give thanks to the sun, who diligently turns up, day after day. I’m reminded of a girl who, during her battle with breast cancer, made a pact to always see the sun rise and set in her efforts to be grateful for the gift of each day. Today, I too stop and give thanks.
The scent of a frangipani reminds me of summer. Like vanilla and cinnamon in the dead of winter, or gardenia in the spring, the frangipani with its sunbursts of white, lemon-yellow and blush pink flowers makes me believe in summer’s magic; of weddings on the beach, strawberry cocktails by the water’s edge, party music, and the bells of laughter pealing across grassy fields. It is a time of swimming lessons, bike-riding on suburban streets, swings, fish and chips by the beach, late night ice cream expeditions and camping holidays.
Summer is the perfect time to make solar tea. Solar tea is made by placing freshly picked herbs into a glass jar, filling it with rain water, closing the lid and leaving it out in the full sun for one to two days. Drink it straight, or refrigerate it for a cool afternoon refresher. Aromatic herbs such as rosemary, chamomile and peppermint make delicious blends but you might also try orange or lemon peel for a tangy beverage. The sun captured in a cup — what a lovely thing!
Summer is also a fabulous time to kick-start a new way of eating. The summer heat encourages us to eat more alkaline-forming foods such as citrus fruits, cherries, peaches, mangoes, berries and coconut, green vegetables picked fresh from our gardens, lighter grains such as millet and buckwheat, honey and sprouted seeds. Gradually introducing an abundance of alkaline foods into our diets during the summer phase is one way to build up strength, good health and vitality in our bodily systems in preparation for the winter cold and flu onslaught.
Our children too, benefit from food in its raw state. Unprocessed, chemical-free fruits, plucked straight from the tree or collected in $5 picking buckets on a family excursion to the farm are natural and wholesome body cleansers. Biodynamic milk from cows that graze on lush summer grass is a cream-lovers delight. These enlivening foods provide us with plentiful minerals and nutrients and help to flush the liver and kidneys of a build-up of toxins. Children delight in the visual rainbow of a summery fresh fruit display at a farmer’s market and lunchboxes can be filled to the brim with these natural snacks, without hesitation (unlike ‘snack’ foods found on supermarket shelves.)
The vitality and energy that children derive from fresh foods is needed for summer adventures too. Bush picnics, rolling down grassy fields, summer camps, canoeing, team sports and backyard tenting fill their days. Children can stack stone mandalas as a gift for the summer gods, scamper across trickling creeks barefoot, cool down in the shade by moss-covered rocks, make daisy chain necklaces and wreath headbands. Burst seedpods can dry on sheets of newspaper under summer’s gaze in preparation for indoor play. Children can collect shells and driftwood for a hanging mobile, nature table display or to glue together with wooden beads to make a sweet doll. Cuttlefish found washed up on beaches are a treat for our pet birds.
And all the while, one can carry the essence of summer by tucking a golden flower behind one’s ear. Adorned, embellished and nourished by summer’s goods, we are made beautiful and whole.
Writer and Educator Amber Greene (B. Ed, ADCC) is mama to Henrietta (16) and Ned (2). Her work provides a flash of insight and bright ideas for a variety of topics including parenting young children, eco-friendly living and artistry in everyday life. She writes daily on her blog MamaMoontime. You can contact Amber via email firstname.lastname@example.org.