When I think of summers past, it is as if a movie begins to show on the screen of my mind.
My earliest memories are as a little girl, perhaps at three years old, during a time when it was safe for children to play outside without much supervision. I remember a summer afternoon, lying in the shade under a tree in our back yard, and watching clouds float by — all afternoon. That probably happened on many afternoons, in fact. Sometimes I would flip over onto my tummy, and spend what must have been long, long moments in fascination, looking at the blades of grass, the scalp of the earth beneath, and sometimes discovering some bugs in there. Flip again, and repeat. Put that picture of me in the dictionary, under “idyllic.”
When I was about five, we were very excited to take a family vacation to Pensacola Beach, Florida. Now, seeing how that area has been affected by the BP disaster, my memories of those pure white sands are revitalized. I had never seen sand like that! I remember staying in a little motel near the beach, my Mom, my Dad, and I. The slatherings with Coppertone. I also remember getting up in the middle of the night, or so it seemed, to begin the road trip from Oklahoma to Florida. The car was loaded with suitcases, and I was loaded with Dramamine.
Other summer memories pop up. My half-brother would come for his annual visits each summer. One year, my forehead intersected with his swinging baseball bat. I remember getting five stitches at the ER. As I grew up, there were camps, swim lessons, and the compulsory crush on the hot lifeguard — I was nine. I spent several years at Illinois Summer Youth Music in their Choral Music camps, which later influenced my choice of profession and my choice of university. Since that time, summers have held travel, music (tours and festivals, as a student and later as a teacher), and then, trips to take my children to their camps and activities.
One summer, when my son was about nine years old, Camp Capers was high and dry, but isolated by flash flooding along the Guadalupe River. My daughter and I set out on the 90-minute drive from New Braunfels to Waring to pick him up on the last day of his camp session. We were stopped by a camp leader at the freeway exit on IH-10, nearest the camp, and he informed us that the road was currently impassable to all but the largest fire trucks. He said all the other families were waiting at a little cafe up the road, and to head there to wait until we could get in to the camp. This tiny place in Comfort, TX was inundated by the human flood of about 100 people — probably more traffic than that place sees in any given week! We waited there for several hours until it was safe to travel the remaining five miles to the camp. The kiddos were happily oblivious to what was going on in the outside world, happy to watch movies on a rainy day. The arrival of frantic parents was greeted by mystified nonchalance. It was a long drive home that night, as we had to avoid floodwaters throughout central Texas.
I had my first experience with the Feldenkrais Method during a summer internship for young voice teachers at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The National Association of Teachers of Singing NATS) sponsored the program, and part of the learning experience included a morning of Awareness Through Movement. One lesson was particularly vivid for me, starting with such tiny movements, and ending up in a large, fluid, whole-body windmill movement. The effects after the lesson were profound. I felt immediate physical effects, like the sensation that I was grotesquely lopsided! The other amazing thing was, I was able to recall every movement and every instruction of this intricate lesson — to this day, in fact. Even though it would be another six years before the Feldenkrais Method would cross my path again in a meaningful way, I was able to recall that lesson, repeat it, and share it with my students on high-stress days.
Little did I know that such a memory would take on such significance in altering the course of my life. I’ve been a Feldenkrais teacher for nearly eight years now. With each class and lesson, I wonder how my students’ “summer memories” might offer similar transformations.