Warm, Green, Growing Days
That beautiful season, the summer! Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light: and the landscape lay as if newly created in all the freshness of childhood.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I remember the last day of school when I was a boy, the beginning of summer vacation in June, when we literally ran out the school door and felt, in our exhilaration, that summer would last forever, that time would almost freeze (even with 90 degree days), and that this was the natural state of things, this was how life should be! Even now, it’s easy to lose myself in such thoughts as I traipse through the green, stretching, sun-filled days of summer.
Years ago I heard a story about the benevolent native American deity, Manitou, and his desire to give something special to his beloved people of the earth. He called them together and asked them what they would like. One group wanted an earthly home where flowers bloomed, animals gave birth to their young, seeds in the ground sprouted quickly, bird song filled the sky, and the sense of life swelled in the people as it did in the air. Another group asked to live in a time and place where the days were long and warm, the Three Sisters (corn, squash and beans) and the wild berries and the animals themselves would provide plenty of food, and a dip in the cooling river would be a welcome relief from the heat. A third group dreamed of beautifully colored leaves, a time to harvest the wild nuts, acorns and other bounties of the forest, and cooler days and nights. A fourth and final group longed for a world where the everyday was blanketed with crystalline ice and snow that made it easy to track animals, the air was crisp and clear, and families came together for long evenings of storytelling around the fire.
Well, you can imagine Manitou’s consternation after hearing such different requests. How could he give all of his people what they really wanted? He retired for the night with a heavy heart. But the next day he appeared among his beloved people and spoke, pointing to each of the four groups in turn: You, who want flowers, birth, morning bird song – I give you Spring. You, who seek warmth and long, green, growing days – I give you Summer. You, who desire colorful trees, bountiful harvests and cooler weather – I give you Fall. And you, the last of my Indian brothers and sisters, who yearn for cold, beautiful snow, easy tracking and cozy fellowship – I give you Winter.
And the people were happy. They never became tired or bored with their gifts, for while none of these seasons lasted forever, each came and left with the assurance it would come around again and again and again.
Welcome to Manitou’s warm, green, growing days.