I have said it before and I am sure I will state it again:
I could never live anywhere that did not have the four seasons.
I am too restless for a mere two.
Summer in the Northeast is pretty much ten weeks.
Ten weeks of guaranteed heat, of no hectic school schedule.
That is what summer is for me: not feeling cold, not having school.
That first week school is out and the one prior to it revving back up again; don’t count.
Bumping up next to school demands sullies it.
So that leaves eight weeks.
Eight weeks as wide and welcome as blue skies over a waving meadow.
I have the added blessing of working for a public school so that means no work schedule as well. I am a substitute teacher so it also means no pay. We just call hot dogs and watermelon diner about twice a week and drink less wine to cope.
To help pay for our beach vacation we took the day after school was let out I worked nearly full time in June. To many, that is like saying: I got out of bed in the morning in June. So what? But with four daughters still at home, a home I have to keep in order or I turn into captain scary crazy pants, I only allow myself to work part time since going back to work.
Ergo: working everyday all during the week drained the life force out of me. And of course, keeping in how this world always works, this June had several extra stressers thrown in. My continual motion, my ceaseless brain trying to organize, my seized-up then sputtered out Adrenalin glands, were all functionally poorly by the end.
Our vacation of four days in Maryland was very much needed, but I still had residual out-of-wack inner man issues. I felt horrible for my struggling to relax and enjoy when everyone else was. I should naturally too. The accusation of:
“There are billions of people right now who could not even fathom what a vacation is, much less have the luxury of escaping a beautiful home to travel to another beautiful place to stay”.
This is absolutely true of course.
However, my personal guilt over the validity of this, was very misplaced. It did not have to do, in reality, with the turmoil I was feeling. I will have to tackle my privileged Western guilt for another day, I suppose.
So we returned. The unpacking and the buying of groceries done. I had those eight weeks staring me in the face. I will be honest: I still had this invisible stifling pressure bearing down on me, like a swimmer going deeper and deeper down in the water.
I knew I needed a game plan of how to handle NOT having a game plan, if that makes sense.
This is what I concluded would be the most beneficial way for me to deal with eight weeks of warm freedom:
*Wake early to write every morning after coffee outside with chickens and the dog
* Work in the garden every evening after dinner and daughters are organized to do their dinner duty
* Spend that time between my am and pm bookends of writing and gardening maintaining the house, keeping animals alive, raising daughters, maintaining a relationship with the husband, keeping up with others in my life via texting and prompt text reply, emailing, and actual face-to-face interaction, usually over food and alcohol.
* A few times a week volunteer at the local library
* Allow myself to see how I can serve at church
That is pretty much it.
My writing/gardening is strictly weekdays.
My in between writing/gardening that allows home maintenance feels like a luxury of unprecedented time, that calms me more than I can say.
My volunteer times are at set times and days, otherwise the pressing, draining need that are the nature of volunteer organizations will drain a person until they burn out.
This leaves ample room to allow my relationships with others to expand, unfurl, send out runners, like cucumbers in July.
Not to say I only keep up relationships in the summer, that would be odd. But it is undeniable that it is easier and therefore more pleasant in the summer. It repairs the damaged widening riff of my winter silence.
Without breathing room for relationships human existence gets dwarfed, sometimes to the point of blight-ridden and shriveled so much so he or she no longer even looks like their real selves. For the believer in Christ, this is especially damaging as the spiritual relationship with the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, is the springboard in which all our other relationships stay healthy, life-giving, bear good fruit.
Really, isn’t that what we all love about Summer so much?
It is the season of good fruit.
I’m no artist, but I love painting outside signs for my garden.
The fact that they soon get covered in nature and will be completely rotten in a few years, takes the pressure off to make it look like something I bought; lets me not be bothered by the fact it looks like something an elementary student did.