Grit Blogs > Almost Country

It's Summer: Time to Slow Down and Savor the Season

A-photo-of-Colleen-NewquistJust like that, it’s summer.

Which means the spring issue of my illustrated zine Stop and Smell the Butter, which started as the winter issue, is woefully behind schedule. The new sandals that need to be purchased, the warm-weather clothes I meant to buy before the warmest weather hit – clearly not happening in time. All the To Do’s at work that I intended to accomplish before my annual June review – ha.

But rather than stress out – just like that, it’s summer.

The pool beckons for a swim.

The rocking chairs on the front deck call for leisurely conversation.

The screen porch invites me to linger over a glass of wine.

The early morning light brings with it joyful bursts of bird songs, prompting me to lay in bed with my love a little longer, listening.

We don’t use air conditioning, in small part because our inefficient central air needs servicing, in large part because we spend the coldest months of the year longing for summer’s heat, for windows wide open to fresh air and the sounds of the forest.

I admit, I sometimes feel like the women in Harper Lee’s Maycomb, who “by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.” But as much as I dislike perspiring profusely when I’m getting dressed for work, I don’t mind at all the slower pace that comes with summer.

For me, it’s the season of surrender. It’s as if Mother Earth commands me to pay attention, to live in the moment. To savor “real” strawberries, the first ones of the year from Michigan, bought at the farmer’s market. To drink in the first light of morning that filters through the trees. To linger into the inky darkness of evening on the porch, our faces barely illuminated by light from the kitchen. To take my time heading for the office in the morning, knowing that it might mean working late, but knowing too that the forest rarely feels as alive as it does in the hours before the sun reaches the treetops.

Just like that, it’s summer.

Backyard pool

The woods have filled in. The plants around the pool (the only place I can grow them) are lush with life. The tree frogs trill an occasional hello. A cardinal has taken up residence on a nest just outside the front door. A raccoon and her baby peek from the hollow tree in the neighbor’s yard.


Just like that, it’s summer. The windows are wide open, and my worries have sailed off on the breeze.

cindy murphy
6/10/2010 2:24:08 PM

I love this post, Colleen. It makes me want to take a whole morning, a pot of coffee, and just to sit out on the front porch and watch the world go by. Those Michigan strawberries - I'm betting they came from pretty close to here, in West Michigan, the fruit belt of the state. I had my first strawberries of the season just this week, picked by one of our customers at the nursery who hit the u-pick berry farm and dropped off a whole crate for us to enjoy. Oh-my-gosh, they were still warm from the sun and oh-so-sweet! Nothing is so sweet as the first berries of summer. My favorites though are the raspberries....which reminds me, I need to call the berry farm to see how much longer until they're ready. Way too short of a season for them, and I'd hate to miss it! I hate to miss out anything this season has to offer. Enjoy your summer. Cindy

nebraska dave
6/8/2010 5:02:48 PM

Colleen, great post as usual. Yes those dog days of summer are definitely here. You have so nailed the attitude we all need to nourish through out the summer days. We long for these days then coop our selves up inside with air conditioning. I for one am with you. Windows wide open, breezes blowing through the house, and enjoying the heated days for as long as we can, should all be in the plan for this summer. Early morning and late evening are the best for me. There’s nothing like starting the day and ending the day on the patio with a good relaxing cup of coffee. Your pictures give the indication that you are surrounded by natural habitat. Tree frogs? I love the sound of tree frogs and other nature sounds both day and night. It is with great anticipation when I stay with my country friends to be able to encounter the night sounds of Nebraska. Next week, I will be staying overnight in the deep dark Nebraska country. The night sky is gorgeous without the light clutter of the city. All the stars and the moon are so clear that I almost think I could reach out and touch them. I can’t wait to experience the first of many, I hope, such enjoyable days. Well, then there is the enjoyable time we spend working on projects around the headquarters house for ministry. Nice. Enjoy your wonderful summer days and thanks for sharing your thoughts about summer.

mountain woman
6/8/2010 12:56:38 PM

I loved your photos. So green and lush. And I'm certainly envious of your pool. We don't have air conditioning either but our days of really warm weather, we can count on one hand. In fact, it was in the 40s yesterday and 50s today. But I understand what you so eloquently expressed, that lassitude that slips over you as summer weaves its magic spell. So brief a season. Thank you for sharing your summer with us. Beautifully written as all your posts are.