The Lightness of Summer by Nancy Mugele


When I was a young girl I remember well that my bedtime in the summer fell during daylight. I argued for years to be able to stay up until dark, to no avail. I spent hours at my window peering under my shade at the older children in my neighborhood who were still out playing and waiting for the street lights to turn on –  the universal symbol for time to return home. I would also read sitting on the floor under my window with the shade pushed slightly aside so that I would have more light. One of my favorite friends was A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson originally published in 1885. (I did not have a first edition!) Within its pages, there always seemed to be a poem that mirrored my emotions. Bed in Summer was one such piece and I have to go to bed by day was my reality.

Having recently spent a week on the West Coast, I have been thinking a lot lately about the lightness of summer. I love Daylight Savings Time, also officially known as “summer” time in some countries. Summer’s daylight, bright as I wake and lasting long into the evening, is nourishment for my soul. I feel more productive while at the same time enjoying a relaxed “lighter” pace of life. When we were in California and Montana recently it stayed light outside until 10:00 p.m. with sunset at just past 9:00 p.m. I adored it. Don’t tell my sister-in-law Ann. She is headed to MT to visit James next week and she is not a fan of DST, but that is another story.

The lightness of summer is full of meaning – think about it. Summer clothing is lighter, and the foods we eat are lighter, with thanks to the Chestertown Farmers’ Market. Our step may even be a little lighter as we are more active outdoors after our winter (and this spring’s) hibernation. Summer brings out our inner “school-child” making our mood lighter and our hearts lighter with the memories of summer vacations past and present. Summer represents freedom from responsibilities – a feeling adults carry with them from school days even if they have to work all summer. I feel like I am on vacation when I leave Kent School at 3:00 p.m. on a warm summer’s afternoon and still have hours of daylight to enjoy the view from my porch.

Why are humans drawn to sunlight? There are so many reasons, not the least of which is that sunshine simply brings us happiness. Recent scientific research shows that the ultraviolet rays in sunlight actually bring us many health benefits. I know the sunscreen industry does not want to acknowledge this, but I have been forgoing sunscreen this summer to soak in the Vitamin D from the sun, after learning that low levels of Vitamin D can cause heart disease and dementia. I am limiting my sunbathing to 30 minutes at a time, depending on the time of day, and I feel like I am absorbing the earth’s positive energy. “Your body is meant to be in the sun, and exposure to sunlight during the day is crucial to your wellbeing.” (Sunlight May Improve Heart Health) I have been driving Jim crazy this summer after I read the following blog about sixteen proven health benefits of the sun. Did you know sunlight can reduce dental cavities?

Want to live longer. Go outside and bask in the sunshine. Leave your hat and sunscreen inside for a short time. The lightness of summer is fleeting.

Bed in Summer
In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people’s feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown and a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s.


Letters to Editor

  1. jenifer endicott emley says

    Thank you, Nancy.

    Meanwhile, during those daylight hours, I’m reminded of “The Swing.”

    HOW do you like to go up in a swing,
    Up in the air so blue?
    Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
    Ever a child can do!

    Up in the air and over the wall,
    Till I can see so wide,
    Rivers and trees and cattle and all
    Over the countryside—

    Till I look down on the garden green,
    Down on the roof so brown—
    Up in the air I go flying again,
    Up in the air and down!

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