It’s summertime. The days are long, warm, and full of sunshine. The grass is lush and green. The lakes and oceans warm up, and the beaches become populated with people enjoying the season. What makes us love summer so much? Most likely it reminds us of what we did when we were kids. Is it the same now? Do we let our kids go outside, roll in the dirt, sweat, and swim in the lakes and ocean? For some the answer is yes, but for others the outdoors has become antiseptic.
Now that designers have convinced everyone what is needed in their kitchens, they have moved to the outdoors. The trend now is to create an outdoor living space complete with stone surfaces, built-in grills, hot tubs, fireplaces, and expensive furniture. If someone lives on 10 acres, so be it. For the average homeowner, this would cover the whole yard. So where do the children play? Where is the grass? Having nice plantings or an area to sit is appealing, but it should complement the outdoors and not overwhelm it.
I actually saw one report on these designs that stated people enjoy being in the outdoors. This is somewhat humorous considering all that is being promoted are areas for entertaining. Enjoying the outdoors goes so far beyond these limits. One can only experience nature and all it offers by hiking, fishing, boating, swimming, or camping. There is an inexplicable feeling that comes over you when spend time in the simplest of settings. Children notice so much about their surroundings when given the opportunity to experience it in the way nature intended.
My younger daughter enjoys attending a half-day program at a local nature center. Every year we sign her up for 2 weeks of classes. There was one day 2 years ago that I will never forget. I went to pick her up at noon. Having been a hot day, they had run under a sprinkler fully clothed. Her clothes were wet, her shoes were soaked, her hair was sticking to her face, and she was covered in mud. What was most noticeable? There was a huge smile across her face which for a shy child was a major accomplishment. She was as happy as could be, so much that I still see the image today, and treasure the memory.
This past week I got a wicked case of poison ivy. It itches, burns, and is driving me crazy. I am also one of those people loved by mosquitos. Even so, it will not prevent me for enjoying summer outside. We will get out those rickety folding chairs, eat on old wooden picnic tables, and swim in the lake. I will watch my kids run around, having a great time covered in dirt and sweat. That is enjoyment of the outdoors in its purest form. Welcome to summer.