Friday, September 25, 2009

Cheryl Renee Herbsman!

Summerland Guest Blog – Cheryl Renée Herbsman

To me, summer is about freedom and redefining who we are. It’s the time I look forward to all year long. As a kid, my favorite summertime adventures included spending time at the beach, riding the waves all day long; visiting my grandparents in their little cottage on a tiny lake, where I learned to row a boat; and playing make-believe. When I got a little older, I still loved the beach and the lake, but my most favorite event of the year was going to summer camp. It was there that I discovered the idea that who I was didn’t have to always stay the same. Even if I felt different from others at school, there were places in the world where I not only fit, but could bloom. In my later teen years, I stopped going to camp only so that I could travel overseas to visit my boyfriend, who I’d met at camp. Here again were opportunities for taking new risks, for adventure and freedom, for meeting parts of myself I hadn’t before known. Where the school year tended to feel stagnant and constrained, summer was completely the opposite. I usually only got as far as October before I was making a countdown calendar until the next summer.

Over the years, I learned to appreciate the other seasons for what they have to offer. I like fall because I have more time to write than in the summer. My thoughts turn inward and the writing flows. The cooler, wetter weather is perfect for hiding in the cave of my bedroom and writing. And winter is that time of germination, when the thoughts are coming together and the stories are melding and the quiet time begins to come to a close. And then there’s spring, when my energy increases and the sun calls to me and I’m ready to go out and play. But still, summer is my hero, with its excitement and travel and adventure and freedom. For me, that never changes. And I try to make sure my kids have time each summer for a little bit of everything – time to lie around and get bored, time to take new risks, time to explore. I try to balance weeks of camp for them with weeks of do-what-you-want with weeks of going somewhere new.

We live too far from where my husband and I went to camp to send our kids there. But we’ve found them a summer camp closer by that provides them with the same necessities: a place that is different, where reinventing oneself is possible in every moment, where friendships are real, true, and forever.

So what to do when you’re craving that summery feeling but there are long months between you and that possibility? I look to books. Because between the front cover and the back, I can leave behind the mundane parts of life, discover new worlds, try on different personalities and characteristics, and connect with people about whom I come to care deeply. And after all, what’s better than gloomy weather for curling up in a comfy spot and diving into a good book?... at least until summer comes around again J