Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Catching Some ZZZZ's

     The weather has gone from pleasantly cool to unpleasantly hot and muggy.  Afternoons remind me of my childhood.  One of the joys of my early years was a week-long visit to see my grandparents at  Rosebower Farm in Dinwiddie, Virginia.  My grandfather raised milo, peanuts, and tobacco, and he also had a beautiful vegetable garden.
     While I was there, we  spent mornings picking beans or strawberries or squash.  By noon, the temperature had often risen above ninety degrees so, after lunch, Nana and I would clean up the kitchen, and then we would take an afternoon nap.
    She would strip down to her slip and lie on her bed with the newspapers.  I would go into the cavernous, cool front room, strip down to my tee shirt and underwear and lie down on the little daybed with a National Geographic.  There was no air conditioning, so the shades were closed against the heat of the sun, but the window was open and I would drift in and out of consciousness to the quiet hum of tractors running off in the distance or the nearer buzz of bees in the rosebushes.  My Papa would sit in his overstuffed armchair in the dark paneled den.  He always swore he didn't nap, but once I snuck out and found him with his chin on his chest.
     When the still air picked up with an afternoon breeze, we would rouse ourselves from our sweaty stupor.  Papa would propose a ride in the pickup truck or a little jaunt to the farm pond for swimming or fishing.  The afternoon was re-energized by our siesta.
     When I left Rosebower to go back home each summer, I left napping behind, too.  Nana continued to take a nap almost every day of her life until she died at the age of one hundred.
     Now that I am retired, I have discovered the joys of napping.  I don't often stop for one, but when I do, I can almost feel myself right back on that little daybed at Rosebower, especially when it's hot and the bees are buzzing.  I have discovered that all the animals on the farm also stop what they are doing about mid-day and settle in for a shady snooze.

    I think the animals are on to something.  I find it hard to give myself permission to nap every day.  It seems extravagant, wasteful and indolent.  But my grandmother, who was energetic to the end, obviously knew something that has been lost to our fast-paced, work-a-holic world.
   It's time to stop and snore.  Research is showing that Americans don't get enough sleep.  I say it's time we took a lesson from Nana and the animals.  When I taught full time, afternoons were murder for me.  My energy levels dropped and my powers of concentration waned.  My natural cycle was begging me to nap.
     I believe that today, I will pay attention to those urges.  I will put my feet up and honor the napping hour.  I hope you'll join me.

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