The unexpected gifts of this summer

This post originally appeared in the July/August 2020 issue of Inspired Home magazine.

Summer is the traditional time of year where things slow down. We spend the long, dark, cold months of winter planning family reunions and vacations to national parks, to see our parents or to travel abroad during the short, beautiful months of summer. We have spontaneous gatherings with friends and neighbors whom we see while we are mowing our lawns, who stop by on their bikes or who drop in unexpectedly while out walking their dog. A casual conversation in the front yard with a neighbor or two can quickly evolve into an unplanned barbecue potluck where somebody fires up their grill and everybody runs home to bring back their families and whatever they were planning to put on their own grill that evening for dinner, and suddenly, it’s a party. 

But this year, the only tradition being kept up is that things have slowed down. WAY down. We may have spent the long, dark, cold months of winter planning those reunions and vacations, but they have by and large all been cancelled or delayed in the hopes of being able to gather next summer. My husband and I were planning to take my mom and her partner to Ireland in August—that trip is almost certainly not happening. We were planning to attend a large family reunion in July—that was cancelled in March; we have too many relatives who fall into the high -risk categories to attempt to gather together.

We have seen our neighbors and talked from safe distances, either between our yards or from across the street, but we haven’t had any spontaneous gatherings. We’ve all gotten very adept at waving through picture windows and greeting people loudly from the sidewalk as we stroll past their houses.

So how are you spending this unusual summer? Assuming you and those you love are healthy and employed (all that really matters ultimately), what are you doing to honor this weird gift of a truly slowed down period of time during the best months of our calendar?

Are you spending more time in your yard and gardens? Are you going for longer bike rides and walks? Are you pursuing your favorite or new hobbies? Are you taking time every day to appreciate the weather, the lush, riotous colors of summer, the incredible amount of daylight hours and more? Are you remembering to be grateful for what you do have versus what you are missing?

Every year for as long as I can remember, we have gotten to September and said, “Where did the summer go?!?!” Well, we won’t likely say that this fall. This summer, we have the opportunity to embrace the languid nature of these long days and warm nights and to truly slow down and appreciate a different pace and season. Pay attention and enjoy; it’s unlikely we’ll ever have this time again.

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