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Exchanging our Tools for Summer

~ by Phaedra Shaltanis ~ 

And now for the kiss of the wind,

And the touch of the air’s soft hands,

With the rest from strife and the heat of life,

With the freedom of lakes and lands.

-Paul Laurence Dunbar, “In Summer”

Here at last! We’ve planned and toiled, studied and drilled, and now the summer winds promise months of regeneration to body and mind. We’ll be exchanging the “heat of life” for the sun’s intense blaze, a glory to our eyes which have so long squinted into the harsh blue light of screens. At last! unscheduled hours with shortened lists; at last! daytime naps and hammock reading; at last! visits to friends and travels with family. It feels we’ve earned the upcoming summer rest, doesn’t it?

Now is the time to give our worn out gadgets a reprieve and pick up the fresh and ready. For me, this will include stashing my laptop and iPad out of sight and out of reach; they’ve served me well these past 10 months, but we need a break from each another. In their place will be watercolors, a guitar, and books-glorious books with pages of familiar friends and anecdotes I never tire of hearing. No lurking alarm will remind me of an upcoming class or meeting, but the hours will float alongside me in restful leisure. My schedule will be unhampered by the rigors of an academic year, and while those have their place, it’s refreshing to put them into the toolshed for a season.

No doubt I’m not the only one ready for summer’s easy pace, and this period of change is not only pleasant but also necessary. When our patterns shift, many forgotten joys and wonders fill the place of the familiar, and often the result is unexpected delight. Consider the pleasure of watching a spider spin a web: under many circumstances, we’d hurriedly and thoughtlessly swipe it away. Now, however, we may pause to marvel at its magnificence and find space to explore the nature of spiders. Maybe you’re not likely to appreciate spiders, in which case, imagine any number of creatures going about their daily work, or picture colorful spills of flowers, cicadas singing, gentle lake waters lapping. What delight to quietly study these things in a state of repose! They are extraordinary in their simplicity, and summer’s calm will help us extol them.

I am breathless for summer, for the sweet hush it brings. I could fill the weeks with all manner of work (and surely some will be inevitable), but my labor will be different. I’ll have exchanged my tools to suit another purpose, one that is vital in restoring health and vigor. Meanwhile, my steady, hardworking regulars get a much-deserved reprieve until next year. After all, in Shakespeare’s words, “summer’s lease hath all too short a date,” and we know this season will pass. May it be a blessing!

Phaedra Shaltanis is a seasoned classical educator with 20 years of experience teaching in the classical tradition. Her experience includes home-educating her 4 children, teaching in private schools, creating a classical curriculum for young learners, serving as a leader in various programs, and mentoring parents and teachers in classical education. Phaedra cherishes conversations built on God’s truth and strives to engage others through discourse, particularly in the areas of literature and history. She hopes to encourage her students toward a stronger ardor for language as they seek after God and treasure their membership in Christ’s kingdom. [email protected]



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