“August has passed, and yet summer continues by force to grow days. They sprout secretly between the chapters of the year, covertly included between its pages.” ―Jonathan Safran Foer
It’s mid September. School has been in session for three weeks already. I have already had two pumpkin spice latte’s. When the wind picks up just right I can see a yellow leaf or two dancing. Fall is most definitely on its way.
And yet here I sit on that same bright blanket on that same familiar sandy shore listening to those same squeals of delight mixed with the echoing sounds of a splashing water. We’re at the beach, once more.
And I’m not at all mad about that.
Last year, admittedly, I kinda was.
I was just sooooo done with all things warm. You spend four years in a place that celebrates heat and you might be ready for a sweater too.
But this year, with a full year under my wing, I am seeing things a bit differently.
I can see the gift of a sweaty summer day in the middle of September. An icy cool dip into the lake is really only appreciated under the hot sun. Popsicles always taste better when the heat makes the juices run down your arm. And the sign marked “last week for sweet corn and watermelon” at the farmer’s market means only one thing: you get as much as you can carry knowing it will be the best it will taste for at least the next 9 months.
And as I sit here rocking my summer baby under the shade of the tree watching one building a sand castle and another practicing her swimming tricks, I am doing everything I can to bottle up these warm summer feeling. I am scheming how to weave these sensations of warmth and joy and freedom that summer brings to the chapters that lay ahead, the ones where the day is shorter, and colder, and far less electrified by color. How in those darker days can I bring myself back to this blanket, to this beach, to this bit of sunshine?
Earlier this summer I was sitting on the beach with Mike (we did this a lot, if it wasn’t already clear), days from meeting my third baby, weighed down by not just my full term body but also the collection of emotions that come with that, and yet I found myself in a surprising state of peace.
“Bring me here.” I said to him.
“Bring me here. When I’m down. When I’m grumpy. When I don't want to come. Bring me here with the kids and the baby. I feel it. I feel a sense of peace that I can’t quite describe. But I know this right here is my happy place. I will need this. When it’s dark. I will need a place to come and feel this peace. To feel like I’m okay.”
And so we did. Even when it took a million years to get out of the house. Even when I ached all over. Even when the bed and the air conditioner and a closed door sounded much better. We came here instead. And it worked.
So whatever it is, whether its the fresh cool air or the wide open spaces or the squeals of delight, this is a place that brings me peace. And when you recognize that inner peace, particularly in a time when it is least expected, you want to practice finding that space again. On a hot July day anxiously awaiting a new little one, on a mid August morning with fog on my brain, and on a sweaty September afternoon, when you feel the seasons changing and yet you want to hold on for just one more day.
I don’t know how I will do it, but I will try to find this peace again. I will close my eyes and remember the sounds and the smells and the feelings of warmth inside and out. I will bring the light of summer to the heavy winter, and to a heavy heart.
On paper, this could have been my most challenging summer yet. The last two months of pregnancy in the heat? Ugh. Weeks of newborn exhaustion? Double Ugh. Kids home all day err day with nothing on the calendar? Ugh ugh ugh.
Yes, those things were hard. But they didn’t make the camera roll.
The bright spots, though? Certainly they did. And I might argue those moments are exactly what made the Summer of 2018 one of my favorites.
Remember my Reverse Bucketlist? It worked for us. And while I won’t recap ALL of the things that were added on to that list this summer, I will include some of my favorites, other than visiting the beach, of course.
A little show and tell…summer edition:
Building a Playhouse
This deserves it’s own post. Someday. But this late spring project kicked off our summer and I am so proud of it. We made good on a promise for a playhouse after moving last summer. And all of the heavy lifting goes to my construction crew of one, Mike.
Our First Garden
Seeing as I had a new pumpkin of my own to grow this summer, it seemed this was definitely not the year to plan a vegetable garden. But budding five year old gardeners cannot be held back. We were given a gift card to a local garden store and spending it on a few (eight!) tomato plants and some seeds for growing vegetables seemed like the best use of it. If (when) we killed it all, no harm done, at least not on my wallet. In the sad neglected side yard we filled two big boxes with soil and after a few lessons, I let Caroline do all the planting. She checked on the little seedlings, watered when she noticed it was dry, and took great pride in every little veggie she plucked from the vines. Was it the prettiest garden? Not by most standards. But the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves. And I reap the harvest seeing as both kids still won’t eat tomatoes unless they are in pizza form.
Their joy also taught me that when we want to take our gardening skills up a notch, I need to allow for little hands to get as much involved as possible. Maybe even offering them their own space to have at it, no grownups allowed.
Growing things is so fulfilling.
Family of Five
Speaking of growing things...July 10 we officially joined the family of five club with Leo David making his appearance! Again, this probably deserves it’s own blog post. So many thoughts on this delivery and the choices we made. But let me tell you, that moment when those kids walked in to meet him for the first time, the gentle hugs, the smiles of pride?? Heart Emoji does not even cover it. I knew that myself and their dad would fall in love at first sight, but I don’t think I was prepared for the bigs to as well. But they did. And it was precious. The end.
Camping on the North Shore
There were many things on the list of “Not this summer” and doing a big family vacation was one of them. But this didn’t stop us from taking advantage of Mike’s very generous family leave time, as well as grandparent support in town, and taking a little adventure. After falling in love with the North Shore on our winter getaway last January, I couldn’t let the summer go without experiencing this place at its peak summer time. So when we knew Mike’s parents would be in town to be an extra set of hands, we booked a two night camping trip and hoped for the best. We were not disappointed. Was it easy sleeping in a tent with a 4 week old? Nope. Were there moments I questioned my decision? At 3 AM bouncing a NOT sleeping baby, yes. But in the light of day, with a cup of coffee in hand, sitting on the rocky shores of the mighty Lake Superior and marveling at God’s creation, I couldn’t imagine missing this opportunity. Worth it.
So there we have it. My Summer 2018 highlights reel, mostly so I have something to look back on when I need to conjure up that place of peace. A way to help that summer feeling creep into the pages of the rest of the year. Next winter, or maybe as soon as tomorrow. So tell me, what is your place of peace? What is your summer highlight that will carry you through a dark winter, literally or figuratively? Show and tell me!