Because of the rather mild winter, the public school systems in West Virginia went out for the summer this past week.
When I was child, the date for school to end was usually something like the 7th or 10th of June. If we had some snow days, we could be going up to a week beyond that.
Today, the school systems are required to make up every single day that is missed, and the school system allows so much malleability to the school calendar that it actually is possible for school to be out before the month of June commences.
Whenever this time of year rolls around, those summer days start to well up in my consciousness.
As a child with deeply introverted tendencies, I found the constant interaction that was always required at schools quite exhausting at times.
To make matters worse, I was the son of two teachers at my elementary school, and I lived out of district.
Introverted children who live out of district really don’t have that many friends, especially during the long days of summer.
I grew up on an old farm that my grandparents owned. My dad had been given a section of the farm to build his own house, and that section of the property was in his name.
Thus, my grandparents were literally yards away from me.
I liked to spend a lot of time at my grandparents’ home during the summer.
I would spend long hours out in the pastures adjacent to their home.
And it was there that my imagination served me well.
I could turn a leave of grass into the most amazing animal, and I would then turn that animal into a character that clearly needed a story told about it.
So if you were driving along and you saw me playing blades of grass or little leaves from the nearby bigtooth aspen trees, you might think I was a bit touched in the head.
And maybe I was.
But the truth is I think that being able to tap into my own imagination has always been a skill that has served me well.
I can tell stories. Indeed, my mind is constantly looking at things to see if a story might be made out of it. Phrases, sentences, and paragraphs shoot through my mind all the time. If you see me in one of my little meditations, you may catch me softly speaking to myself. The sentences sometimes must be voiced.
But those long summer days in the meadows and woods honed my imagination.
My desire to know the truth about the natural world shaped what I generally like learning about most.
And having a grandfather who worked long hours on his own in an isolated part of county meant that I had a source for quite a bit of natural history knowledge– knowledge that one would necessarily receive from reading in books.
And I had a grandmother who encouraged me to write and express myself. When I was helping my dad clean out their home this past winter, I discovered several stories that I had written through dictation. And no, I haven’t been able to read them.
So I guess maybe the eggs of this blog were laid over decades ago.
It’s only through my time writing here that those eggs have started hatch.
I don’t know whether these eggs contain lovely birds of paradise or cockroaches– and somedays, you probably don’t either!
But I now know that without those days of summer to train this imagination, I don’t think I would be able to write even the most mundane and boring fact-based post on this blog.
I have to tap into that my sentence-producing stream to bring it out.
And if everyone stopped reading this blog, I’d still be producing it.
I must let the sentences live.
The summer sun only makes them quicken with life.