From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Summer Days

Plenty of time for play



Collagemama wrote today about the summers of her childhood in which she had plenty of unstructured time to contemplate the marvels of nature. She wonders how much time today's children have for such things.

I remember the long summer vacations we had when I was little. We had three full months of freedom from school. Most days, my mother had some chores for me, but after the dishes were done, I had long afternoons to do whatever interested me. My schedule was open to...

  • Play house with my sister
  • Look for wild mushrooms after a rain
  • Feed bread crumbs to the ants
  • Help the mama cat take care of her kittens
  • Read a book from cover to cover
  • Collect snails from the windmill tank in a jar
  • Fish with a cane pole from the Skull Creek bridge
  • Make a comfy nest in the haymow


And if I got tired of doing those things, I could...

  • Wade in the windmill pond
  • Ride the ornery little pony
  • Search for 4-leaf clovers
  • Find Indian turnips in the pasture
  • Visit the hayfield to watch the haystacks being made
  • Count the ladybugs on the lawn
  • Stir up some mud pies and weed-seed coffee
  • Eat green beans right off the vine in the garden


Educators are worried nowadays that the kids will forget too much during a long summer vacation. Here in our county, there's been talk of year-round school with a couple weeks off at the end of each quarter. After public protest, that idea was officially dropped, but for about five years now, school has started early in August. It's not year-round school, but summer vacation is greatly shortened.

In addition, many children spend their days at daycare centers or summer camps. They may also have a busy schedule of lessons, practices, and competitions or games. When they do get home, many electronic amusements are available. Certainly, all of this reduces the time that children spend creating their own simple ways to have fun.

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2 comments:

Collagemama said...

I've ordered a book about nature deficit, but it hasn't arrived yet. How can we hope the next generation will help us combat global warming if we have failed to connect them with ants and ladybugs?

Genevieve said...

It is an odd thing. In some ways, the kids are well educated about nature from watching Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, etc. At the same time, I wonder if some of them ever get much chance to experience nature firsthand.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.