by Emily Conrad
I was out for a walk in beautiful June-in-Wisconsin weather and found myself wondering why I lived in a place where summer is so fleeting.
Though my husband and I sometimes daydream about moving elsewhere, even just a little further south so we’d still have four seasons but summer would last longer and winter would be milder, we have our reasons for being here. Our family is here. We do enjoy the four seasons, even if we have our favorites. This is our home, where we grew up and met and married. My husband’s job is here. Moving across the country would take a lot more doing than we want to muster right now.
So, we stay in a place where summer is fleeting.
The question then becomes, how can I enjoy it while it’s here?
It’s already July, and I feel like I’ve hardly gotten outside, despite using the grill and daily walking my dogs. So, what’s squashing my summer, and how can I save it?
Summer Squasher #1: Work
I’m drafting a novel right now, and that tends to take over my thought life and my time. I become obsessive about the story and the characters, but also about meeting word count goals. I also tend to sit at my laptop at my dining table, typing and thinking about typing.
Summer Saver: Resting Outside
After debating over whether it would help or hurt, I finally committed to the Grace Table summer book club, which is reading Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller. I did it because I know I ought to have time to read, but I haven’t made it happen. Instead, I’ve been obsessive about accomplishing writing goals.
To actually settle down and read the book I’d invested in for the club, I took my Bible, the book, journal pages, and a pen outside, and I sat there until I’d finished the reading for the day. Being away from my computer made me more conscious of the bird singing and the nice breeze, the growing things, and the summer. And of course the Psalm I read today (Psalm 65–read it!) had to do with how nature praises God and of course the introduction to Rythms of Rest opened with this quote:
“If you keep the Sabbath, you start to see creation not as somewhere to get away from your ordinary life, but as a place to frame attentiveness to your life.” Eugene Peterson, The Pastor (as seen in Rhythms of Rest pg 13)
So, there’s something about coming to Jesus for the rest He promises and to doing so outdoors.
Summer Squasher #2: Indoor Space
Another part of why I feel disconnected with summer this year, I think, is that we moved into a larger house just over a year ago. The moving and settling process kept us busy last summer, but before that, when the weather turned nice, it automatically meant spending more time outside because there were fewer places to get comfortable inside.
We lived in a tiny house, so most entertaining I did occurred in summer when we used the patio for parties that never would’ve fit inside. I would also read and write out on the patio, because inside, I only had one or two places where I could do so, and by the time summer rolled around, I’d tired of them.
Summer Saver #2: Prepared Outdoor Space
The prepared part is the important part. We tucked away our patio table and chairs to prepare for this last winter and never brought them out again, so working and eating outside just aren’t convenient. And even though we got out our Adirondack chairs, we hadn’t cleared the accumulation of other things off our patio, so I didn’t feel like there was a nice place to set them up.
This morning, I started the rearranging process, and I’m now typing to you from outside, my second stint out here today, something I wouldn’t have done had the space not been prepared for me so that all I had to do was bring out a couple of little things and sit.
Summer Squasher #3: Stale Winter Mindsets
It’s easy to get used to staying in, watching Netflix, and basically hibernating when it gets dark at four and is cold all the time. Though I feel summer slipping by, it’s easier to continue the same-old-same-old routine than it is to challenge the fact that I’m wasting my summer by failing to change from my winter mindset.
Summer Saver #3: Instigating Adventure
State parks, hiking trails, art festivals, campfires, trips to the lake can make a summer, but they don’t happen if no one instigates them. Make plans, put them on the calendar, and get out of the house on an adventure that works in summer like at no other time.
My hope with this one is that by breaking the hibernation habit, some of my adventurous spirit will carry over to winter, because there are plenty of adventures to be had then, too.
Really, this whole thing comes down to habits and mindsets. Maybe you’re great at getting out and enjoying your summer, but I think all of us let things slip by underappreciated. Life, and not just summer, is fleeting.
When we feel moments and seasons and opportunities sliding through our grip, it takes a certain kind of focus to identify what’s gone wrong and a courage to change our habits. But the reward, a life well-used, a summer savored, is worth the effort of tightening our hold on each of these wild, beautiful, fleeting moments.
How’s your summer so far? What are you doing to make the most of it?