By John Thomas Tuft

The three kids started out on one of those summer days that sign, seal and deliver childhood until the day we draw our last breath. The sky so blue it makes our heart ache, with puffballs of clouds scattered high overhead, oblivious to the fact that by late afternoon they may join forces for a thunderstorm that will bring shrieks of delicious fear and awe. The sun is warm on the skin and makes us actually smell human, not like coconut-mango-aloe-marinated bacon. The light is piercingly bright, so much so that pictures taken with now antique cameras reveal what happens when a sunburned smile is holding up squinting eyes. The spirit yearns for water, any water, cool and refreshing for splashing, wading, swimming, dunking; children in summer are not exercising. They are playing. Plain as day.

Summer stories are adventures: Rescue missions of lost princesses, heroic encounters with dragons and wizards, re-enactments of exploits that demand courage and sacrifice, searches for hidden treasures and lost worlds. Grown ups may try to recapture these adventures with theme parks, daredevil stunts, extreme sports, and “living on the edge” but the core of the human race is neither rushes of adrenaline nor ego. It is joy. Summer stories and adventures are about joy. Nothing more, nothing less. Any lessons learned along the way are the crust that struggles to give boundaries to the peanut butter and jelly. For, as we all know, children eat summer food gleefully, without self-consciousness, uncultivated finger-licking charm, because eating is part of the adventure. It is the thrill of seeing how much chili, mustard, catsup, slaw, onions and cheese will fit on one hot dog kind of plain as day adventure.

On a summer day, it is as plain as day that flowers smile. Their smiles may hide secrets, but so do the smiles of children. Grown ups hide their secrets behind their eyes while they wonder how to make it through another hot, muggy, irritating summer day. In the adventures of a summer day, it is plain as day to children that countries are made up entities, politics are excuses, anyone can be a shining knight, and you don’t need umpires to tell you if you had fun. In the rules of summer days in any neighborhood, bullies are surrounded, shamed and shunned, if need be. Children with special needs are prized on summer days and the shyest of the shy are welcomed and their imaginations challenged.

Arguments may ensue over which part of a summer day is the best. Arguments on summer days are to forward the agenda of joy, however. Wise grown ups stay out of such arguments. Summer mornings are full of promise, more plans than you can shake a stick at, made over bowls of soggy cereal or bacon and peanut butter on toast. Summer afternoons beckon…(yeah, I said it, BAPBOT is good eatin’!) …summer afternoons beckon with boisterous claims of unlimited time and sunlight, endless games and eternal youth. Summer evenings roll out the magic. The mysterious mists of dusk, rising fireflies and hopes that sunset will last until midnight…

If faith is anything, it is the plain as day reminder of joy. I started out to tell you about three kids setting out on a summer day. I leave that story in your hands. You are one of those kids. Find two more and enjoy a summer day. I swear, wearing a mask will only decrease the joy if you allow it to. As any self respecting eleven year old would tell us, Get over yourselves. It’s summer. Act like it. I have faith…plain as day. Time for some more BAPBOT.

Words are magic, and writers are wizards.