A Sensory Summer
June 23, 2022
June 23, 2022
I look at my kitchen faucet differently these days.
Several years ago, my kids and I read Linda Sue Park's brilliant 2010 middle-grade short novel A Long Walk to Water. It details the real-life story of Salva Dut, an 11-year-old who, during the Second Sudanese Civil War in 1985, led 1500 other boys on a life-saving trek to a refugee camp. Park titled the book A Long Walk to Water in part because so much of life in South Sudan revolved around each family's daily walk to a far-away water source: One girl, Nya, walks 2 hours twice each day just to procure enough brackish water that her family can cook and stay (barely) hydrated.
After we read A Long Walk to Water, no one in my family experienced summer the same way again. Now, any time I step inside on a hot day, put ice in a glass, and turn on the tap to fill it with clean, pure water, I am reminded of how lucky I am to live here and now, and how easy we have it. Water fountains are free. (Free!) We even play in pools full of the stuff.
That means that in North America, we can actually enjoy the heat, especially if we are fortunate enough to escape it when we want to. Summer lets us experience the pleasures of sensory contrast: of heat and cold, sweet and savory, exertion and relaxation. If we slow down enough, we can revel in these sensory experiences, point them out to our kids, and reflect on our blessings.
As the summer progresses, you'll find yourself beckoned by all kinds of interesting things to do with your family, as well as lots of ways to separate your money from your wallet. The price of gas these days might make even just a long drive a pricey luxury. But a sensory summer doesn't have to cost anything to be memorable: It can be as simple as finding a good book, filling up a glass at the sink, and settling in for a read with your kids. If you're especially lucky, it might even be just a short walk to your local library.