Summer is for the kid in you

By Clyde Davis: local columnist

I have this recurring nightmare. I am trapped in a steel cage, hurtling down an incline at something like 2,000 miles an hour. I cannot move to the right or the left, and on either side, if I could move there, I see only vast expanses of air; above is only the whirling vortex of sky. There are many others similarly trapped, and above all our screams of terror, you can hear a thunder without any discernible source.

Then it occurs to me — I will not wake up. This is not a dream. I have just waited in line for twenty impossibly hot, incredibly muggy Dallas minutes so that I could take my grandson on the runaway mine train at Six Flags.

Another recurring dream. I am weightless, floating through space in a zone where time doesn’t exist. My arms slowly propel me toward the sun, which is beneath me, and the blueness and darkness surround me.
My feet whirl and kick, twisting my body into graceful forms. Turned around by the tightness in my lungs, I spin the other direction, passing into a cold zone where the stars are clear and visible.

I realize that this, too, was not a dream; it’s been one of those too-rare opportunities to go nightswimming, the conditions under which the dividing line between water and sky lessens to almost nothing, like the dimensional curtain in a science fiction novel.

Around us, the shadows and sounds of night shift perspective, becoming larger than reality. The trees seem to take on a life of their own, dancing a dance of joy in the firelight. The yapping howl of a coyote, disguised in the darkness, echoes from an indistinguishable source. The ghost which is a barn owl floats to earth on the outside edge of my vision, then disappears.

Not even some exotic world, simply an evening at Ned Houk Park, with a campfire after a cookout. We have been doing this for years, as we have the night swim and the amusement park foray. Has it ever occurred to you that your summers on this earth are limited, that you will only have the chance to enjoy a finite amount of summer?

Right now — I mean at this moment — you have half of this very summer to enjoy.

• Take a kid to a water park. Find a close, affordable one. The operative word is, take a kid — nephew, niece, grandkid and above all, the one who lives in you.

• Go to Santa Fe with a friend. Walk up and down Canyon Road and find out what is new in the art scene. Sit on the balcony of an ancient hotel, and sip those cold, icy, citrus flavored drinks. Share the driving duties; it makes the trip easier. Better yet, take a friend who is elderly or feeble or ill, and give them the gift of doing all the driving.You’ll get more tired, but it will be worth it.

• Get a kid in swimming lessons. Arrange your schedule so that you or someone else takes off time enough to help a child learn to swim. It is, literally, a gift that will last a lifetime.

• Start a novel — a long one. My choice for this summer was Peter Straub and Stephen King’s collaboration, The Talisman.

• Work outside a lot. It is good for you, good for your yard, and good for the community. Plant flowers, xeriscape, build one of those fancy decorative walls that I never seem to get around too.

Above all, enjoy summer. You only get a certain number of them, and there is no use wasting one wishing you lived by the ocean. It gets too crowded, anyway.

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at: