Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Not missing Summer

This year I decided I am not going to miss Summer.

Last year, for a number of reasons, I managed to spend pretty much the entire Summer indoors. This year I've been intentional about wandering around outdoors at various times of day. Not walking for exercise, which I actually did last Summer with apparent obliviousness to my surroundings (I have a talent for gazing at the ground just beyond my toes during such walks)–but wandering, looking, seeking and finding.  Last evening, the rain had stopped and some teasing golden rays were shining outside the kitchen windows.  After staring absentmindedly for a few seconds, I exclaimed "Oh, I'm missing Summer!" threw my dish towel on the counter, and, vaguely aware of loved ones smiling at my outburst, I walked outside.

Breathing in deeply, I slowly made my way up the dirt road looking for details that have changed from yesterday–there is a lot to see.  My eyes were on green and flowers and bugs and dirt and stone.  Trying to gaze into the woods, at this hour veiled with deepening dusk just inches beyond the outer trees, I realized that the familiar trees of my Winter walks were completely obscured.  The smells were fragrant, earthy and unidentifiable.  The air heavy with leftover moisture, yet crisp with the new air moving in with the clear skies that would arrive overnight.  I went to my favorite corner, just out of sight of the house, with wetlands and woods all around, and stood still. Listening, feeling, gazing, wondering and praising.  A moment to capture in poetry. A gift of treasure for me.

It would have been more than enough, but unobservant me had failed to notice other treasure hidden in plain sight.  As I turned around to walk back home I suddenly saw the sky and actually gasped.  How could I have missed this in my walk down the drive!  My eyes had been all for the woods, and grass and green growing things.  Nothing but an old hayfield and soybeans to my right, after all.

But above the hayfield, the farm field and the distant wild woods of the amazing sky–dark and light warring together–explosions of purple and pink and blue and sailor's delight red.  Pure golden shafts reaching down to set the Western fields aglow even while our road still lay under the shade of passing storms.  The color reaching out from the light, from way over by the horizon into the dark clouds in the East for far more than 180 degrees, a huge bowl of sunset beauty.  The kind you want everyone to see.

Our hayfield is about 2 acres square, and I could see Lydia and Essie in our backyard on the other side.  I waved to them to come into the field for a better look–one look and 12-year-old Lydia was off for the camera.  9-year-old Essie and I met on the path.  We watched for a while, enjoying it together.

I'd like to say that Essie and I are kindred spirits, but in truth–I "try" to see beauty, and feel thankful for the capacity to appreciate God's glory in creation when I manage to notice it.  She is naturally drawn to beauty, patterns, and life of all kinds, has always loved everything in creation, and is gifted in observing it in unique ways and from surprising angles and also pouring it back out in an explosion of daily, original, artistic productivity.  She sees what others see, and also a lot of things that most of us miss.  I wanted to show her some of the things I had seen on my walk earlier so we went back past the purple wild flowers (and some new ones she pointed out to me) and laughed at the strange, huge fungus that had sprung up overnight that looked like a burnt squash. We did mosquito dances to avoid being bit, wondered at the strange ball of something green and hard with white dots that was hanging off an oak tree, and by noticing the tell-tale holes on a milkweed plant, found the first monarch caterpillar of the season.  We brought it home, plant and all, to watch it transform into a butterfly over the next three weeks.

As I stood again in our kitchen, setting the milkweed plant next to the aquarium of transforming tadpoles on the counter, I had just started thinking about writing about my enchanted hour after the kids were tucked in bed in just a few more minutes.

But my evening didn't turn out quite like that after all.

Just at that moment, another sound of Summer burst into reality.  The sound of happy boys playing in the last hurrah of the bedtime scramble turned into a painful cry–the type where I'm just about to say "Hey! I don't wanna hear that sort of screaming unless there's a lot of blood or the house is on fire..." just at the moment I look down and see a little boy's second toe twisted a bit, and bent sideways...where there isn't a joint.

"Um, Grace...go tell Dad that Ben's toe is, ah, bent sideways."

Within minutes Mom, Dad and 7-year-old Ben were headed to the ER, where I had plenty of time to think quietly about my evening while holding an ice pack on a sleepy boy's tender foot, or rubbing his back, or walking next to a wheelchair to X-ray.  Then doing a lot of waiting for the busy doctor to come reduce the fracture, buddy tape the toe to his big toe, and send us back home with a very cool foot boot on a very, very sleepy boy (accompanied by tired, and speaking for myself, crabby parents) in the wee hours of the morning.

Yes, this is my Summer.  I'm thankful not to miss it.


1 comment:

Abigail said...

Mmm, loved this.

I'm thankful for kids that help me not to miss summer.


Treasure from the Junk Drawer
copyright © Sara Shull
•All text and poetry by Sara
•Art illustrations by Sara
•Photos by Sara or the Shull kids
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