Saving Summer

family

I thank you God for this most amazing day; for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes.
~E.E. Cummings

 

It’s the end of June and I don’t know where it went.

Well, yes I do actually. It went the way of 8th grade graduations and family parties, sitting outside with family and friends, barbecuing, singing karaoke, watching the kids run around and play and have the time of their life. We gardened, planted tomatoes and peppers and sat back to watch our first tomatoes turn red on the vine. Whew, it was a busy month. It also rained.  A lot. Enough that it created a built in excuse for burrowing into my office for hours and hours of writing frenzy and working on plans for a new site design. And now one entire month of the summer is gone.

For a lot of you, that may be no different than any other month, days come, days go, and one month evolves into the next with nary a blink of the eye. However we are from the Midwest. We are allotted precious few summer days, doled out like sparkling gems to be cherished. To waste one is almost a sin. Having to work during one is heartbreaking. Anguished employees struggle to keep their noses from being pressed to the glass. “It’s gorgeous out there” one will say wistfully.”

“I know, don’t remind me,” the other will reply, clutching their heart as if wounded. You think I exaggerate. No. This conversation happens all summer long.

Yet…

Come the weekend when you would expect them all to be flooding outdoors, canoeing, biking, picnicking or other recreational hobbies- they aren’t there.

They are at home. Working on their TO DO list. Getting stuff done. Meeting family obligations, cleaning out the garage. If they find TIME, then they will go play. TIME rarely comes.

Come Labor Day Weekend, all around the barbecue, will be a familiar conversation. “Where did the summer go? One day it was June 1st and the next thing we knew the kids were back in school and I can’t think of single thing we did.”

Summer has slipped through their fingers like sand on the beach. Gone. They will mourn its loss in the harsh winter snow and promise that next year will be different.

It probably won’t.

But it could be. It isn’t too late to save this summer. It takes planning and commitment and a certain proactive mindset but it can be done.

It isn’t difficult and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Think back to our childhoods. Badminton, croquet, backyard barbecue with family and friends, lightening bugs, Kick the can games and hide and seek, picnics in the park with hot dogs and baked beans, time spent on beaches building sand castles in the sun. None of it went away. We stopped taking time to do it. But we could.

The secret is getting out the calendar. Planning family time and fun time before chores and obligations suck up the summer sun. Call a family meeting. Brainstorm several fun ideas that everyone would like to do. Write them all down. During the brainstorming, let no idea be out of bounds-but explain brainstorming, you won’t be able to do them all; you will have to pick and choose. The ones that hit the top of the list go right on the calendar. Before anything else. Make it sacred. Make it a promise. Make it a summertime date.

On a sidenote, if you are doing this with kids, I have also found that with younger ones, this is a great way to introduce the concept of budgeting to them. My kids were quick to figure out that we can pick one really expensive thing on the list OR we can pick ten or twelve other ones. THAT light bulb went on very quick!

With fun things on the agenda to look forward to, balancing the TO DO list during the week has more motivation. You might find you have a little extra get up and go to throw in that extra load of laundry and the kids might not mind taking it up to their rooms so much when you remind them, you all want an early start on the fun day on Saturday instead of spending the whole day doing chores. No kids? You might want the try that reminder on yourself. It’s very motivating!

Planning for fun is a foreign concept these days in our busy overworked world. Just like our healthy eating and our exercise programs and our eight hours of sleep, fun is on the “as soon as I can get to it’ list for too many of us far too often. But having it to look forward to just might put some extra zip in your step, improve your attitude, and make your work go by faster.

It will definitely give you something better to chat about come Labor Day at the neighborhood barbecue then wondering how summer, let alone life, is slipping through your fingers.

 What are you going to do for fun this summer?

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22 thoughts on “Saving Summer

  1. Very thought-provoking! I’ve already asked where the summer has gone. Colin jokes, “Yeah, soon it will be Christmas!” But it’s true. It gets sucked away by the daily grind and all to quickly I’m shivering and hating winter again. You think the midwest is miserable, try Canada!! 🙂

    Good points, though, in your post, and I like the planning idea. Colin and I often don’t end up doing anything and then we’re disappointed. the one day we finally did plan was our anniversary, our sixth but the first time we actually did anything, and it was the best day of summer so far! Otherwise, our time management skills blow. We need to work on that.

    Great post! Thanks for the reminder, and the good news that it’s not over yet!

  2. Hi Wendi

    I’m playing in my garden. I’m going to Vermont (to see an old friend) and to Montreal. I can use both periods for photo shoots.

    I try keeping up with the chores so they don’t all overwhelm me. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn’t.

    Have you read any Dylan Thomas? He likes to talk about green things, too.

    I don’t know about you but this heat gives me a headache!

    Ellen

  3. That is exactly what I need to do, put things on a calendar! Every year we keep saying this summer will be the best ever, but we never plan things and just wait for them to happen! Time to get out my calendar!!

    Got any room on your calendar?

  4. @Wendi: Oh my gosh!! I had no idea. Wow. Thanks for that article, I’m bookmarking it, in case I ever need it… Good to know! E.E. Cummings, it is!

  5. Hi Ellen,
    I am playing, more like fighting weeds, in my garden too. And we have a very exciting week long trip to Michigan on the calendar for the first week in August that we are very exciting about. I am not familiar with Dylan Thomas, but I will check him out. Thanks for the suggestion! I am going to spend more time with my camera taking pictures this summer. You and Amy have me really inspired!

  6. Hi Ellen,
    I am playing, more like fighting weeds, in my garden too. And we have a very exciting week long trip to Michigan on the calendar for the first week in August that we are very exciting about. I am not familiar with Dylan Thomas, but I will check him out. Thanks for the suggestion! I am going to spend more time with my camera taking pictures this summer. You and Amy have me really inspired!

  7. Jenny,
    LOL, yes, we do have room left. In fact when John gets home this weekend from Paris, we are going to work in some Kayaking, some bike rides and at least one Ren Faire day on the Calendar- if not more. And I know I have to tell him about Bowling night too! But if you guys want to come over for a backyard campfire night, lets get our calendars chatting soon!

  8. Steph,
    I was so surprised. When I found that quote, I was SURE it was a typo so I went on a hunt to prove myself right. Hahahaha! I have always thought it was small caps, My whole life!

  9. We talk about saving summer….you know what I think wastes summer? Weddings!!

    If you take May, June, July, August, that includes 16 weekends of “Summer”. And not all of those wekends will be sunny and warm. …some might be rainy.

    So that leaves you with mabye 12-13 “nice” weekends. If you end up with one of those summers with multiple weddings (we’ve all had those)….BAM! There’s a big chunk of your summer gone! Staying indoors on a bright sunny 90 degree day, wearing an itchy suit and tie.

    I don’t know why people insist on getting married during the best weekends of the year. It’s not like you get extra time off work. And you spend most of the day inside anyway.

    GOD FORBID should someone choose to get married in April or Late September.

    Anyway, I’m so glad everyone I know and care about is already married, and my summers are free for the time being.

    (Hmm…this inspires me to write another post!) 🙂

  10. Well OK , I guess when you find your Mrs Friar, you’ll be hitchin up in September then?

    I’m all done now, so I won’t be taking up anyone’s time with that!

    Seriously though you have a point, and children’s B-day parties too. Why do parents think that everyone in the gene pool wants to get Little Tommy a present and come and eat his birthday cake on a Sunday afternoon?
    There are too many kids, not enough time and for a heck of a lot of folks not enough budget…and TOO many calories! Enough is enough!

  11. @Wendi

    In all the weddings I’ve been to, only one was in April (a cousin of mine).

    It was acutally a great time of year to get married, I found. People weren’t too busy with summer, and April is kind of blah anyway, it was a nice change to have something to do on the weekend. I wish more people would do this.

    I also hate summer weddings becaues I”m a big guy, and I DIE in the heat with suit and tie. I often have to bring several changes of shirt. (In this one case, it’s better to be a woman, with the loose dresses and sleeveless gowns).

    As for what I plan on doing this summer…I dunno. I have fishing and canoeing and all that on a daily basis up here in Splat Creek

    But I want to go away for a week. Don’t know where. Might be Lake Superiour or the Adirodacks, or New Hampshire. Mabye even Alberta, if I can afford it.

  12. Ah fun..yes, good reminder! Since moving to Michigan I am often lost without the familiar people and places. I don’t know how I’ll spend the summer but I love the reminder to make time for fun. Perhaps a trip home – now that would be fun! 🙂

  13. Hi Wendi,

    Like you suggested, we do need to plan. Without planning, the days slip by and soon Fall leads into Winter and we patiently wait until next Summer, saying “where did Summer go?”

    I’ve been trying to enjoy the summer, although ours has come late. Unfortunately we’re have temps pushing 100 and it’s too HOT to be outside. I’ve been enjoying catching up on a few favorite books, and some decorating projects. Next weekend we’re going to the (car) races.

  14. My summer looks like it is going to be very adventurous. Smile. I am relaxing this week and just analyzing life. My number one goal is to have fun and do what I love. I pray the same for your summer. Sherita

  15. Wendi,
    Enjoyed this “message”. Decided one year ago to allot one weekend totally to Self.
    During the three days . . . Friday, Sat. and Sunday. . . I attend something pertaining to music – be it a local band playing, symphony concert, local artists in nearby clubs.
    Also, plan one creative experience, such as an artist’s exhibit (they abound here), crafts show, art school activities open to public by the art students. Have lunch out in nature one day – when weather permits (which has been hard to find this Spring in the Midwest). . . . and walk about my neighborhood and local “Village”. These Alone times, even being retired, get me out of the house, onto my feet, moving my body and enriching spirit and soul!
    Calendar is always on the hall wall and marked ahead of time. Now, sometimes, plans fall through the cracks, but, there are always more calendar dates ahead. Life is to be lived, and is not a spectator sport.
    Blessed Be,
    Ms. O
    Central Indiana Seeker and Muse

  16. Summer. Drinking wine under my tree. Writing. Running. Working towards moving to a land where winter much resembles our spring. 🙂

    (I hate winter.)

  17. @Brett;

    Campfires, and also, hiding behind the bushes to make sure the drunken teenagers dont’ chuck beer bottles on your property.

    You can be Old Man Legree, (hosing down your driveway).

    “Hey, you Godamn kids stay offa my lawn!” 🙂

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