I am a gardener. I am a horse trainer, a dog walker, a muck shoveler, an animal feeder, a runner, a sheep farmer, a builder of things, a poultry raiser, a riding instructor, a birdwatcher, a hiker… I spend most of my waking life outside, and the summer is the most intense and demanding time of year for me. I love my life and I love the things that I do.
That being said, summer is my least favorite season. Sure, I love to watch things grow and change, but honestly by the time summer sets in I hardly have any time even to do that. This was the first year that I witnessed several teenage students have “Aha! moments” when they suddenly turned to me and said “Gee, I bet you can’t wait until we’re all back in school and you get your quiet mornings again…”
I certainly didn’t deny it. In fact, I often found myself feverishly nodding, and then whisked off in a daydream of quiet mornings and summer’s retreat.
So here I am, in the first week that the local kids are back in school. The garden is winding down, the horses are all breathing sighs of relief as their workload lessens, the sheep are chewing cud quietly in their fields and things are dark and quiet. Sure, I still have farm chores to do and various outdoor tasks. (I should probably beat back the forest of weeds that has taken over my yard and made it look miserably abandoned. – Thank goodness my landlady hasn’t complained yet!)
The shortening of the days as we approach fall is something that many people dislike. It signals the return to the school year and it obviously means less sunlight by which to do outdoor activities. I understand my students’ frustration. I remember getting home from school and having a mere three hours before dark. How irritating. But now that I am grown (or rather, slightly more grown) I see these shortening days as a signal that it is time to rest. I am sitting in my living room (I’ve always wanted to call this room the parlor, as a sort of history-geek’s homage to the early 19th century house we live in) and I hear my roosters crowing “Cock-a-doodle-dooooo!” or even “Time-to-eat-me-toooo!” in the barn and I’m not even phased.
I have decided this is my first really quiet morning. I slept until I couldn’t sleep any more (7AM – ugh) and now I am sitting on the couch thinking of what my next sewing project is going to be and letting the morning happen around me. Time is free to wash over me because I have fewer obligations to rush off to. It’s as if I can feel the ripples and tiny waves of summer lapping at me like aftershocks… or like the healing of some sort of throbbing traumatic wound. Hah! If only I could articulate like this when I’m talking to students. I’m sure they’d love to hear the wild summer schedules that they inflict on me described as such.
I’m sure that come wintertime I will be lamenting the sun. I will be cursing myself for not spending every moment of summer lapping it up and enjoying it.
Until then, however, I intend to take a few deep breaths and relax.