'The lazy, hazy days of summer'

Remember when you were a kid and would lie on your back in the grass and stare at the sky? In your imagination, puffy white clouds took on forms of animals, people, or cartoon characters.

Last weekend I found myself cloud watching again. Instead of a bucolic setting, I was in a car hurtling northward along an Interstate highway. The scenery was dull; my husband and I were tired after two weeks of hard physical labor involved in moving. But the sky was a crisp blue, punctuated by enormous cumulus clouds, and I found that I couldn't keep my eyes from wandering skyward.

There in the clouds I saw a flying pig, a dinosaur, a pony, a sports car, a castle, an alligator playfully nipping the tail of another alligator.... OK, I'll admit I let my imagination carry me away on that last one. But I was enjoying myself in a way I hadn't for years. Nicest of all, I felt myself totally, completely relaxing. Even frequent highway-construction delays didn't ruffle my composure.

I'm not pining for a return to the days when I was 8 years old, but I do wonder if I've forgotten how to do "nothing." Children instinctively know the value of observing the progress of a column of ants, searching for four-leaf clovers, catching and releasing fireflies, or hunting for Orion in the night sky.

It's been a long time since I did any of that, and I miss the wonder of discovery and the joy of exercising my imagination.

Summertime is supposed to be "when the livin' is easy," but summer and winter have become equally hectic for me. Those cotton-candy clouds high above Pennsylvania have convinced me what a big mistake that is.

E-mail the Homefront at home@csps.com.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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