It’s summer. And I have to admit that this summer has been our busiest to date. Between soccer, running club, swimming, birthday parties and adventuring, we’ve managed to be on the go almost every second of every day. For real. We’ve done some straight up sweat-yourself-to-death landscaping, major closet clean outs- equaling six black trash bags of junk (which you know I’m a fan of), multiple fillings of the yearly redneck yard pool, and serious lunches at new restaurants and food trucks. Being this busy would typically send me into a social anxiety attack…but I must be getting comfortable with all the things we have to get done everyday because I’m not ready to put my hermit hat on yet- and if you know me, you know I wear one.
Because it’s been a summer of seeing the world differently- through sunglasses- scratched-up, cheap ones…but lovely. Because we ride with the windows down and our hands float over “hills”. Because we can wake up and eat breakfast at 9:30 but also have lunch at noon. Because I have time to make that second homemade pie after I screw up the first. Because I’m learning I need to seriously practice my monkey bar skills- seriously- what happened to my biceps and triceps? Because we can raise our arms on the slide and pretend we are at a theme park. Because checking the garden in our rubber boots doesn’t seem like a chore. Because there’s lemonade. Because there’s outside. Lots of outside- and I have a mad farmer’s tan…but no worries, I don’t own a tank top. Because. Just because.
Because I’ve been driving a lot, and I’ve had a lot of time to sit in camping chairs just watching, I’ve also had some time to take notice of a few things about summer that I sometimes forget to appreciate.
- Dirty Feet. Sounds gross to some folks. I wish I could say I understand…but I really can’t. Because dirty feet, to me, means that you’ve been somewhere where you were comfortable enough to kick your shoes off and just let it be. I’ve been noticing my kids’ dirty feet. We used to call them “grocery store feet” when I was growing up…not sure why. Maybe it’s because my grandad ran a little gas station/grocery store when I was little- you know, the kind where you could get some groceries and then come pay your bill on pay day?? And the floor was concrete- painted that weird grey color. I ran around with no shoes all day, inside and outside…and some of his most loyal shoppers would do the same. Insert the “yikes” emoji here. Maybe that’s where we got “grocery store feet”. Whatever the origination…I like “grocery store feet”. Sometimes I don’t even notice I have them until I’m in the kitchen and step in something wet…then the dirt-foot footprint is staring back at me. A lot of times I don’t realize my kids have them until see the dirt imprint of their pink jellies when they take them off before bath. Nice. You played today. You did some serious playing.
- Picking Blackberries. We spend half our driving time looking for blackberry bushes that will need to be picked in a couple weeks. And I like blackberries, but they’re not my favorite. But loving them and picking them are two totally different things. Picking them just feels right. Eating them is a different experience. But picking them and eating them at the same time is the only reason I like to pick them. I like to wear my boots, watch for snakes, strategically avoid the “prickers”, and eat. I’ll bring home a bucket full, make a cobbler (cup of, cup of, cup of) and end up throwing the rest out because the kids don’t like the seeds in their teeth. I have memories wrapped up in blackberry bushes. Good ones.
- Red Gas Jugs. You know. The ones that you take to the gas station when your mower is out of gas? I’m not sure why, but this reminds me of summer. And am I the only one that still worries that I’m going to sit that thing somewhere and the heat of summer is going to cause it to explode if it gets too hot?! I swear…it crosses my mind everytime I sit that sucker in the garage. I’m not sure it can really happen, but I like to keep my red gas jug in a shaded, cool spot in the back of the garage just in case. And when you see someone carrying one on the side of the road, don’t you think to yourself, “Man, he/she must’ve run out of gas…and it must be miserable carrying that load of fuel down the highway in 100 degree heat!” Then, if you’re me…you think, “I hope they walk fast…that thing might just blow up it’s so hot.” I’d like to know where I got that idea- it sure does haunt me every summer.
- Frogs and Crickets. It’s a lullaby that can put me out in a hot minute. The sound reminds me of camping…and hot, sticky weather. Then, I hear the occasional loud croak and I kind of just want to go giggin’. But that’s a lot of work, and I just can’t even after all we’ve done today. And I smile because it sure is a lot of fun! Maybe I’ll save up my energy one day and we can go giggin’. But not tomorrow.
- Cinder Blocks. I noticed some today on top of a barn…holding the tin roof down in case a strong wind threatens it. I pictured some farmer throwing those things up on top of that roof, and I thought- dang…that must’ve been miserable for about 20 minutes. But I bet it builds a nice cut in the triceps. Wish I could do it. Kudos to you, Mr. Farmer…it was 101 outside and you thought to sling a weird, leadened concrete lego about 25 ft over your head to protect the roof from flying off and creating more work. Well-done.
- Yard Sales and Goodwill. It’s no secret. I’m a lover of turning other people’s junk into treasure. I found a purple mumu at Goodwill, and it’s legit. My granny wears mumus, and she told me it was a good find. And it has pockets! I couldn’t wait to get it home, wash it, and wear it…stuffing all my daily junk in the pockets- chapstick, bug spray, a pack of crackers, and twine to tie up the tomato plants. So, here’s to my purple mumu with pockets and the pearly snap buttons down the front. You can be my summer “jacket” and I will wear you all the time.
- Blue Vinyl Blow-Up Pools. We get one every year. A new one. I know, I know…we could just store them away and save them for the next year. But, have you met us? Yeah…storing one is way too much. So, we get a new one. It’s kind of our thing. The kids will spend all day long in a 10 foot blow up pool. We drain it. Refill it. Drain it again. Move it because it’s killed the grass. And refill it again. We put floats in it. We make whirlpools in it. Barbie lives there all summer…along with lots of other random things: cups, big spoons, shiny beads and gaudy necklaces, goggles with the strap undone, and grass…lots of grass. Because no matter how many times we say, “wipe your feet before getting in”…it never ever happens. We need to lower our expectations for getting grass in the blow-up pool. Summertime grass magnet.
- Arrowhead Hunting. A unique adventure, to say the least. Growing up, I would go on super hot summer days to a dried up creek bed near an old farm with my pap. It was hot, dry, and sometimes I wondered why we were even out there. Not until recently did I appreciate what we were doing. Not until recently did I understand how difficult it was to find a good arrowhead hunting spot. The spot we went to was a gem of a spot…and I didn’t realize how hard it was to get into good arrowhead hunting ground. First, there’s research to be done on the history of the area and places where native americans settled or traveled through. Needs to be near water or near somewhere there used to be water. AND, if you really want to find them, it needs to be somewhere where a farmer has freshly turned the land. Well, I’ll tell ya…it’s hard to just contact any old farmer and ask to go wandering through his farm. After a ton of research and a little bit of old-school communication, I think I’ve found a spot to take the girls. I can already hear them, “It’s so hot…What are we doing…Why are we here…Can we go home now”….I’ll make sure to prepare myself for the struggle. I’ll make sure I keep my expectations low. Chances are that we will bring home some shiny rocks that we think are arrowheads, and then I’ll have to research how to tell a rock from a real arrowhead.
- Good Old-Fashioned Sheet Forts. We built one for the girls two weeks ago. And it’s still there. And they would sleep in it every night if we let them. Until someone gets a tack in the foot or the clothespin pops off.
- Popsicles. A box of 80 costs less than a gallon of milk. And it’s hot. That is all.
- Lightning Bugs. Of course. There’s no summer without them. Mason jars full of them. You catch them as kids…put them in a jar with aluminum foil on the top- holes poked strategically, and some grass inside. Then you have kids. And you spend forever catching them. Longer than normal…because you forgot how hard it was. They light up, you think you got them, and they’re gone. The first time I caught them for my kids, I seriously questioned my depth perception. I’ll be honest. A few years ago, I told Blakley I’d catch some for her and it took me 45 minutes to catch ONE. Hardest work I put in all day that day. Took it to her room so she could watch it while falling asleep. Woke up to Jason telling me that sucker was in our room flying around. I was too tired to re-catch it. Poor thing probably got sucked up by the vacuum.
Truth is. Fall is honestly my favorite season…but summer is a different kind of special. Soon it will be fall…and I’ll love it just the same. But for now, I’m holding on to summer. Cause one day it’ll be gone. Another year will pass. Summer will seem so far away. And as busy as we are in summer…it’s a slower busy. An easier busy. My kind of busy. I look forward to “summer busy”…especially when the “winter busy” rears its ugly face. But for now. It’s just summer.