Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A slow start to silly season

By S. Derrickson Moore

Having trouble getting into a summery mood?
Climate change has escalated beyond deniability with giant tornados, floods, drought and rampant wildfires.
Our infrastructure is crumbling around us.
Congress is growing more and more dysfunctional.
The impacts of sequestration are coming home to roost and there seems to be a new government crisis or scandal every week.
Usually around this time of year, journalists are talking about silly season — a carefree time of vacations, blockbuster movies, games, music and books that are escapist and frivolous.
This summer, in addition to the greater-than-usual regional, national and international sturm und drang, your local Sun-News journalists are converting from Macs to PCs and a whole new multi-media content management system.
You’d think this would be the time to abandon silly season, personally and professionally.
That was my feeling, too, until I decided I might as well go ahead with my annual fads of summer story (currently in the works). 
And I’m glad I did, I decided, as I tempted a neighborhood dog with my glow-in-the-dark Frisbee and debated whether I should send my new collection of superhero hand tattoos (the temporary kind) to grandson Alexander the Great or  keep ’em myself. (I think I’ll compromise and keep Wonder Woman, then share the others.)
I’m not advocating a slacker, isolationist, escapist policy, you understand. There are issues that need attention, people who need help and members of congressmen to contact.
But could it hurt to throw a picnic, a sing-along, a blockbuster movie date, a swim, or a new toy into the mix?
There’s something about the rhythm of life that calls out for a summer break now and then.
There are American summer traditions as ingrained as the Fourth of July, apple pie and ice cream socials.
Almost all of us grew up associating summer with a break from school and some kind of family vacation, like a road trip to see assorted wonders or a camping expedition to enjoy the wilderness.
No matter what the budget, most of us can manage some variation of that, even if it’s just a day at a regional fiesta.
There are a lot of summer staycation options here, too — a backyard barbecue, summer park programs, free concerts and free movies.
While assembling a collection of my favorite childhood books for a friend’s granddaughter recently, I was reminded of how many adventures you can have just sitting and reading under a shady tree, or in a cool backyard hammock.
In fact, I was tempted to revisit some of my childhood favorites and a mystery series I love, and I’m finding them just as fun the second time around.
With a wealth of summer-reading programs, book giveaways and the resources of local libraries, we can all enjoy exotic travels to foreign cultures, and even other realms, without mortgaging the house or sacrificing college to fund a Spaceport fight.
Back-seat pillow fights and super squirtgun duels. Runs through the sprinkler. An early-morning nature walk with a parent or grandparent, before it gets too hot.
While the memory of  a five-star resort vacation dims, I can still remember a long-ago summer canoe trip with my grandfather. I remember clearly the shock of an icy cold swim, the fun of navigating through pine forests and sandy coves.
In trying times, we should all try to find ways to take breaks, play and have a little silly fun with those we love.
We’ll come back to life’s challenges refreshed, with new ideas and energy.
Maybe we should send Congress to mandatory summer camp this year, and hand out super camper medals for those who best learn how to play well with others.
Do something silly today. Happy summer!

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore

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