Just a couple of blocks from our house is the community swimming pool where I spent some of my happiest days. The Mount Vernon Recreation Club is where I learned to swim as a child and where I taught swimming lessons as a teenager. As I drive by the pool, I see children in colorful swimsuits splashing, bobbing, and climbing in and out of the water with wild abandon. I smile as I watch them do cannonballs off the diving board shouting, “Woo hoo!”
They remind me of summer’s wildflowers, so natural, sweet, and free. Yellow black-eyed Susan, Queen Anne’s lace, blue bachelor buttons, and purple coneflowers dance in the warm breeze like happy children.
It was Thoreau who told us, “All good things are wild and free.” While I appreciate formal gardens with highly-cultivated flowers, neat hedges, and perfect symmetry, they are more like rigid adults. Adults who tug at their swimsuits, hold in their tummies, and smooth down windblown hair. Adults who are so serious they miss all the fun.
I want to be more like children and wildflowers. They remind me to be more carefree and to accept myself just the way nature intended. They encourage me to stop metaphorically pruning, weeding, and digging in quite so hard. A wildflower grows simply and beautifully, like a child in summertime.
This summer I want to swing high into the air with my feet kicked out and my head tilted back. I want to make a chain of clover and wear it in my hair. I want to lie in the grass and watch my thoughts roll by like fluffy clouds.
Wherever this season leads you, take time to notice children playing at the park, on neighborhood streets, on beaches, and at amusement parks. Be inspired by their curiosity, imagination, and lightheartedness. Let their unguarded laughter and movement take you back to your own childlike nature.
Like flowers, children deserve to freely grow in safe and nurturing environments where they can preserve their bright beauty and fresh innocence for as long as possible. I think adults would more elegantly serve each other and our world if we could regain some of our guileless naivety and childlike wonder.
Pick a wildflower from the woods or roadside ditch and put it in a little vase to be reminded. If the opportunity arises, slip on your swimsuit without any self-criticism. Then run and jump into the cool water with an enthusiastic, “Woo hoo!” §
“Wildflowers are the stuff of my heart!”
~ Lady Bird Johnson
Featured Art ~ Girl in a Field, Ludwig Knaus, 1857