I believe every adult over the age of 25 should be required to spend a minimum of 3 days a year outside in the backyard. They should be required to to sit in the shade of a big old maple tree with a glass of icy cold lemonade and a good book. There would be no distractions allowed except for the sound of the crickets chirping in the rock garden and the twitching of grasshoppers in the tall field grasses.. No doubt we would all have to wipe away the drips from our lemonade glass as the condensation from its icy contents rained down upon us. We might even have to struggle with the urge to lie back in the grass with our head resting on our folded arms , as we enjoyed the steady buzz of cicadas overhead.
The best thing my mom ever did for me, was boot me out the door and into the back yard. I spent countless summer days hunting for frogs or snakes or simply laying flat on my back in the thick green carpet of our yard daydreaming as row after row of albescent clouds sailed by on their journey overhead. Summer evenings I would race into the dark recesses of our yard, mason jar in hand. There, I would capture fireflies making big lanterns with which to light our June strawberry shortcakes or July blueberry cobbler or sweet august peach pie.
Sweet summer fruits lead into plump earthy September tomatoes . Mom would pack them snuggly into grandmas old mason jars and hide them away for winters homemade soups and sauces. In the fall we would rake great piles of leaves reveling in those last warm days of the season .Mom would pull out the magnifying glass and carefully we would angle it over an old dry leaf until little wisps of smoke would curl up and over itself a little flame lingering behind it.
In Januarys cold twilight I would twirl across the frozen swamp trying to model the elegance of Peggy Fleming or the athletic grace of Dorothy Hammel .Berfore long, tired and sore from running over to many frozen weeds ,I would fall into a snow bank and watch the warm steam of my breath climb up toward the frozen winter sky.
If it where possible I would press the reset button and force the world to slow down. I yearn to temper our societies drive to go screaming hell bent for leather down the highway in search of instant gratification. I truly believe that if we spent less time scrubbing ourselves with antibacterial soap and more time trying to incorporate that proverbial “peck of dirt” into our diet, we just might find the world isn’t as bad or scary or “germy” as we are all so terrified that it is. We have ourselves so over wound we can’t even remember the pleasure of just sitting in the tall field grasses and making daisy chains or smoothing thick blades of grass between our thumbs and squeaking out that little whistle.
I really do believe if we all savored that peck of dirt and a cold lemonade, we all might feel a little better.If we allowed our kids and ourselves to jump in a few more mud puddles, Our collective blood pressures might go down. If we turned over a few more rocks or chased a few more fireflies We might begin to reconnect as families and communities. The greatest lesson mom ever taught me was to slow down and soak it all .in. Not just to appreciate nature( and life) , but to breath it in. smell it, taste it,and above all else get dirty!
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