For many residing in cooler climates, summer is perhaps the most celebrated outdoor season. We look forward to trail walks, cycling trips, pool visits, and picnic fun. The entire world is finally ready for us to explore once again.
Summer also happens to be the only time of the year when kids are off from school for an extended period of time, tempting parents and grandparents to schedule special family vacations and gatherings in the hope of creating some lasting, loving memories.
Summer is magical. We often celebrate its return with barbecues and outings with family and friends. This year, however, hit hard by COVID-19, summer has arrived quietly, like a sad and lonely magician without a wand or an audience, for he cannot deliver as much of the fun we are so used to and have taken for granted.
Where I live, community pools remain closed, along with water parks and movie theaters. Even libraries and playgrounds are off limits. For the sake of their health, children cannot hang out with their friends, and neighborhood parties have, at least for now, become events of the past. So, what's left for us to do to fill these long, vacant days and nights?
America has always prided herself for being a fast-paced country where everyone is forever seeking exciting things to do, whether attending a seminar, enjoying a vacation, or visiting a friend. Then, suddenly, our world has shrunk to the size of our home, where we work, eat, sleep, and now daydream of the ideal summer we wish to have.
For me, this year's summer has brought back some special childhood memories of the idle, hot days when I sat and feasted my eyes on a small patch of sky above a yard no larger than a dining-room. This was in China in the 1960s. The whole country was going through a lot with much political turbulence. For our own safety, my mother often forbade us to leave home.
Being housebound, our summer days felt as long as eternity and our social circle consisted of just me and my sisters. Yet, there was something very special about spending those days in slow motion. After helping my mom with some household chores, I had plenty of time to sit on my little bamboo chair in my tiny yard, just staring at the fleeing clouds high above. My mind left me to ride on the backs of those clouds.
It's been decades since my world was forced to slow down almost to a halt. But now, with the pandemic, I feel, once more, that sense of slow motion. It makes me feel nostalgic, wishing to hop back on those runaway clouds again before the world picks up speed once more and regains the quick pace that has dominated much of our lives.
Reflections From The East Column:
By Qin Sun Stubis