You may have heard the comment that the “three best things about teaching are June, July and August”. Those of us who are actually teachers know this is not exactly true. For some of us, the summer just presents an opportunity to earn some additional income, or, as in my case, to also maintain my department’s presence on campus and in the community by offering summer courses. For most, it is truly only two months long, as our contracts extend from mid-August to mid-June, and we are back to work long before September actually arrives. And for everyone who realizes they need to publish or risk perishing as professionals in their fields, this is actually a short “sabbatical” that allows us a chance to pound out some research, not exactly the “vacation” that some outside of the academy think it is. Nevertheless, summer is certainly a magical time that offers a chance to slow down and celebrate life. I realized this last week as I took my daughter to “opening day” at the public pool.
As I watched my daughter’s muscles remember how to swim after a long cold Cleveland winter of being bundled up, I savored the moment in the sunshine. In the years since my recovery from a serious illness, summer has come to represent my own experience of living again, after thinking I was going to die. I remember vividly the bike trip to Martha’s Vineyard the summer after my surgery, as I peddled across the island and felt “alive-ness” in every inch of my being, from my toes to my eyes. Indeed, it is summer that I use to describe the experience of having come so close to dying and then had the opportunity to live again. “It is as if even the worst of times is a warm summer day savored in sparkling turquoise water” is the way I explain it. It is a time to slow down and remember why we love life so much that we have found a way to get paid to study it. It is a time for cook-outs, warm breezes in our hair, sand between our toes and sunshine on our skin. It is a time for joy. But I think my daughter captured the life-affirming nature of summer best as we pulled up to the pool last week when she said what ware actually very profound words. “Summer always comes back.”
My best to everyone as we begin this most amazing of seasons. May it be both productive and relaxing.
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Anthropology Open Rank (Assistant, Associate, or Professor) of Anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts