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Off-topic Friday: No such thing as an endless summer


When you’re a kid, summer stretches out before you, an endless string of long, sun-warmed days, and nights ripe with the possibility of adventure. I remember those summers. When I was growing up on Bayberry Hill I measured time in books read, spent whole afternoons in the shady boughs of a sugar maple in our front yard, and indulged often in cloud gazing.

Now that I’m a grown up (and a mom, to boot), summer doesn’t look quite as idyllic as my childhood memories recall.

Along with sunshine, summer brings the need for even more juggling than the rest of the year. Summer camps, family trips, and extra play dates – all of these things require extra planning and preparation, not to mention precision execution. And all this is added on top of the usual demands: housekeeping, grocery shopping, running to the vet and orthodontist and (gods of retail be kind) Costco.

Oh, and there’s also that little thing called “work” which doesn’t seem to understand the concept of summer vacation. Nope. It just keeps chugging along, tugging me in one direction while the allure of the beach tries to pull me in the other.

Ahhh … the beach.

We are so lucky to have such a beautiful stretch of Atlantic coast to call our own. Each year, I begin the summer swearing that this will be the summer that I spend more than a paltry handful of days enjoying the white sand, clear water, and lovely salt air.

But, who am I kidding? My summers are full of best intentions, and yet they always come to a close with so many things left undone. I promise myself that I will attend more concerts at Crane’s Castle, that I will finally get my act together and host a cookout, that I will hang a hammock (and take afternoon naps in the company of favorite novels and tall glasses of raspberry iced tea). The list goes on and on.

Perhaps the most bittersweet thing about summer is not that it seems shorter and shorter each year, but that there are more and more things I want to cram into those diminishing days. There are so many experiences I want to share with the people I love – everything from whale watches and mountain climbing to sitting in the dark, watching fireflies or having a lemonade stand on the front steps.

Summer is already halfway over, and my bucket list for the season has hardly a dent in it. The days are slipping through my fingers. (Are there still strawberries at Marini’s? Oh, I hope I haven’t missed them!) I can hear the ominous ticking of a metaphorical clock, counting down the minutes ‘til Labor Day.

I have to stop and remember that less is more.

Summer bursts at the seams with opportunities for fun and adventure and even a little bit of magic, but it’s impossible to wrap our arms around all of it. In fact, it’s exhausting. So, this year, instead of weighing my summer down with a long list of things I must do, I’m going to focus on really savoring the things I am doing. I’m going to take my time, ban multi-tasking, and stop scheduling one thing on top of another on top of another.

Summer should be about slowing down, unplugging, and relearning the art of doing nothing. We’ll still have adventures. We’ll still find magic. We’re just going to take each day of summer one at a time. They’ll last longer that way.

 

Image Credit: jamelah e. 

This piece was originally published in the Ipswich Chronicle as part of my bi-weekly column.

 

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10 Comments

  1. One day at a time, one moment at a time, enjoy :) Cheers! Kaarina

    • :) I just queued up a tweet about this post that mentions you. You beat me to it!

      XO & have a great weekend!

  2. Frances Gollahon

    Oh, Jamie, your words reflect exactly how I feel. I miss slower days…I miss my Mom and my Aunt Elizabeth sitting on the porch snapping beans and talking. It was so much fun to listen in even though I didn’t understand the topics. Their voices were soothing and reassuring. I’m able to re-create those moments, occasionally. I wonder what today’s children’s memories will be.

    • What a lovely memory, Frances. And what a great question!

      My own daughter is nine and I feel like her summers are so jam-packed (partially due to the fact that I need to keep working). I wonder what she will remember most – the days of adventure with other campers and favorite counselors, or the days she was able to stay home and glory in the fine art of doing nothing.

      Thanks for coming by and sharing.

  3. Lovely, just lovely. I was just talking to a friend of mine about how none of the kids these days have caught fireflies in glass jars.

    What a wonderful reminder of a more gentle time.

    Wendy

    • Thank, Wendy.
      It is bittersweet, to say the least.

      Though … I suppose we have it within our grasp, if only we can let go of other things …

      :)
      Thanks for being here. Always so nice to “see” you.

  4. I enjoyed your post so much, I put a link and a quote on our event Facebook page as we sign off for the year. The Anchorage July4th Celebration is a one day festival for 30,000 people – – – and when it’s all over and packed up we need to be reminded to simply rest for a spell.

    Thank you.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing. You’re event sounds amazing and like you definitely deserve a rest!

      I hope you get to enjoy the rest of your summer.

      Thanks for coming by!
      :)

  5. Gorgeous, Jamie! I love this!

    Summer does burst at the seams, but so does life, in general, doesn’t it? You are so smart to savor it as it comes, we don’t have the future, anyway, we only have now. In fact, when we project ahead in pursuit of the bucket lists, and shoulds, and to-dos, we only hasten time. So, sit back, enjoy a perfect strawberry, and breathe. After all, summer IS still here :)

    • Thank you, Shanna.

      You’re so right about the dangerous distraction of bucket lists, shoulds, and to-dos. They are always hovering around our heads, like a cloud of angry bees, keeping us from enjoying whatever small pleasures lie before us.

      It’s hard, sometimes, to escape from that infernal, internal buzzing, but oh-so-worth-it when you can manage.

      Thanks for coming over. 😉

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