The Most Wonderful of Summers
By Darcy Kamps
Every year when summer rolls around my mind wanders back to the early seventies when my family left Wisconsin for parts unknown (at least to us kids).
It was the year that my father retired and he had always wanted to see New Mexico. So my parents did what many families did “back in the old days…” they loaded up the kids and the camper and took off. Admittedly, this process may be a bit less complicated in my child-memory than it was in adult-reality.
That summer began with one blissfully ordinary summer vacation day after another filled with jump ropes, pogo sticks and popsicles and then suddenly we were on our way through and to places I had only seen on a map. Places like Iowa, Nebraska and Oklahoma and…Texas!
The wonder of a child is frequently so different than our wonder as adults. I was amazed at the natural beauty in the state parks where we camped. I was awe-struck at seeing storms roll in over a sky bigger
than I had ever seen at home. I was thrilled at riding a tram up a mountain—something I had never seen before—and couldn’t believe my mother and my sister wouldn’t want to ride as well. Then I was scared at the size of Carlsbad Caverns and its underground rivers that flow all the way to California—and my smallness in comparison.
As an adult, I look back on my iconic vacation memory with a different perspective. Now a
parent myself, I’m awed at my parents spontaneity. I marvel at packing six people into a blue Chevy station wagon in JULY and taking off for the hottest part of the United States without
air conditioning. I’m humbled not only by their ability to undertake such a huge task but also make it fun for four kids of different ages.
I’m not surprised that our ability to wonder—and the things at which we wonder ages and matures as we do. However, I believe one of the greatest threats to aging is losing the ability to wonder at the world around us.
This summer grab your GPS and find some caches that leave you breathless and wondering. Do some spontaneous living. Find something wonderful. Surprise yourself. Be amazed at the ordinary treasure you didn’t know was in your backyard. This summer, live wonder-fully.
Enjoy your journey.
Originally published June, 2009