Summer 2017 is now history. This has been a summer I will never forget. After almost a decade of work in a community college, I was released from the grind of the enrollment cycle which had ground the joy of summer from me. For years, instead of savoring the best days of summer, I was rushing to fill the fall class. My days were drawn between the needs of the staff and the needs of the students with very little left at the end of the day. I could not have imagined adding anything to those grueling days.
But this year, I was free from that daunting pressure. My days were lived at a different pace and I found myself able to engage my life with renewed energy. So, I used that energy to make up for lost time. We’ve taken on summer with abandon!
We woke up with the sun and watched the humming birds fight among the feeders on the front port, dive bombing humans who threaten the supply of nectar. The sun beat down on our enlarged outdoor living space, enticed us outside to eat, to listen, to read, to bake in the limited heat of a New England summer.
In the spring, we dove into the garden, determined that this would be the year for a bountiful harvest. We planted it twice. We fussed with the rows and mulched and weeded, but were not prepared for the daily-ness our garden required. We gave it a valiant effort, hands and knees in the dirt, sweat dripping down our necks as we battled the wildness to an eventual truce. We never really were able to get ahead of the curve. We eventually let it go, waving the white flag of retreat. We hoped to harvest a bountiful yield, but in the end, the weeds won. We’ve decided we aren’t really gardeners.
Summer evenings, we watched the fire flies from the deck as darkness descended over the trees. The woods behind the house absorb the light, as last rays of sunlight sunk into the earth. We danced to the sound of the peepers, the owls, one my husband has dubbed the “screech” owl, and the other the “hoot” owl, and the sweet hum of summer evenings.
We used our RV this summer. Every third weekend found us travelling far from home, setting up camp with friends, family, and the dog. We leaned into time away, unplugging from our lives, letting time lengthen and slow. The days were not productive. We rested, slow and lazy. We walked the beach. Stopped for lunch. Ate steaks cooked on an open fire. We rode our bikes and just sat looking at the waves. The slow roll of summer washed over me. Healing and restoring my soul.
This summer I also spent time checking things off my list. Time is running short for my 50 before 50 list and I’ve been busy making memories with my friends and family.
- Laser Tag: The kids met me for a Sunday afternoon at the local roller rink. We strapped on our harnesses and headed into the darkened room. We played, giggling as we ran through the game space. We squatted behind poles, and ran in to each other. I was tagged from every side. It took one whole game to figure out what was happening with my gun. It felt right to share this living video game with these humans. We ducked and rolled, jumped and flattened ourselves to try to gain the advantage. After two games, we hung up our guns and headed out for ice cream.
- Indoor Go Karting: It’s been decades since I’ve sat in a go cart. We piled in the truck and headed about an hour away to reach the venue. I’d heard about it on the radio. The carts were fast and the drivers were serious. We waited through several heats until we were invited into the race room. The exhaust fumes were strong, humidity caused sweat to roll down our backs, but we were ready to go. I found that my first response to the speed and competition was to try and stay out of the way. I would pull over and slow down when other drivers came near. As I gained confidence, I was more aggressive, cutting the turns and trying to keep up with the family speed demons (Allie & Brian). By the third round, I was competing. It felt good.
- Zip lining: On a Sunday afternoon, my niece and I headed out to Western Massachusetts to enjoy a canopy tour. I couldn’t remember why this seemed like a good idea. For me, this was the hardest challenge on the list. Strapping myself into a harness and trusting my strength to work against gravity seemed a bit ridiculous. We stepped into our harnesses, learned the basics, and bumped through the woods to the top of a lovely hill. From there we clipped in and let go. The first flight was exhilarating. I faced fears, learned to appreciate my guides, and let go and just enjoyed the process. The freedom, the sensation of flying, and the fun of sharing the experience with one of my favorite humans made the day perfect.
- Giant Slide: My husband remembers attending the Cheshire Fair with his friend Bill when he was a kid. Whenever we drive by the fairgrounds, he brings it up. So, this year we headed up for a Friday night of fair food, spinning rides, and rodeo. The fair is a local affair. With lots of 4H presentations, farm animals, and ox pulls. We wandered through the grounds, pointing and laughing, a bit overwhelmed by the lights and the sounds. It was a tactical error to choose the corn dogs and fries and then head to the midway, but we were hungry. We bought a bunch of tickets and ran from ride to ride. When we got to the Giant Slide, Jayla and I ran to the top and raced to the bottom… she won. As we ran out of tickets, we picked one last ride. Between the ferocious spin and the clanking noise, my stomach was in my throat when we wobbled off. I was done.
As fun as this summer has been, I’m ready to embrace fall. We have a wedding coming up, the fall colors, and crisp days lay ahead. The lazy days of summer have come to an end, and I am ready to embrace the new season. This feels like learning to be where I am. I kind of like it.
Oh, and here’s a picture of the cutest baby of my summer….