Life's a butter dream
It seems as though summer escaped our detection this year. One moment I was relaxing with the anticipation of a sunny summer day and the next I realized I missed it. Our home is in transition at the moment. One child moved out and another moved back, accompanied by her family. The hustle and bustle of the transition to a new school year is now fully in place. What was once a past experience has now returned to our home front. We can now delight in our grandchildren challenging their own parents about school lunches, school clothes and school activities. What hasn’t changed is the sudden passing of summer into fall. I pulled up an old story from a couple of years ago because it captures the mood quite well:
Summertime, sweet summertime, while not my favorite season, it certainly ranks in the top four. Summer is the season for adventure. Plans, written and reviewed through the winter and spring, are brought to fruition during that glorious season known as summer. Summer is the season for fun. Baseball games, picnics and backyard campouts fill our free time as work and other priorities get pushed into tomorrow. Summertime is the time to relax and enjoy some of the fruits of your work. There is something very satisfying about relaxing in the shade with cold drinks, friends and no schedule to interrupt your thoughts.
Summer is also a mad dash to the finish. Life here in the Upper Midwest seems to leap from season to season with such quickness that it leaves us little time to think. It seems that as soon as we finish putting the snow shovels away, we look around and realize that the maple leaves are starting to turn red. Life becomes a blur as we try to take it all in.
I am not an advocate for laziness but if I had to choose between that and busyness, I would lean toward the first every time. Laziness, however, implies a definite tendency toward willful avoidance of work, and that is not generally considered a good choice. Perhaps a better way would be unscheduled time and a slower pace of living. Unscheduled time allows us to respond to the need or opportunity of the moment. If neighbors or friends suddenly have an overabundance of brats or burgers on their grill, who among us wouldn’t like to be able to respond and assist them in their time of need?
We just completed the final weekend of the summer and, after our children left, it was suddenly quiet. While filled with movement and noise it was anything but busy. It was spontaneous and fun, relaxing and fulfilling. It was an example of what summer and, actually, life should be. Grilling on the deck turned into hours of relaxed conversation as we talked about anything and everything. Later that evening in our living room, we somehow transitioned into a spontaneous display of talent or lack of talent and then family games. Never was anything planned, but rather it happened as we allowed it to happen in a relaxed and supportive environment. Nearly the entire weekend we laughed and ate and relaxed together and nothing was planned except for one event, the summer canoe trip.
This wasn’t a planned route into the backcountry of the Boundary Waters, nothing of the sort. This was simply a slow and lazy trip down one of the local rivers. Most years we head down the Namekagen or the St. Croix rivers, but this year we went in our own backyard, the Yellow River. As parents, however, we have ulterior motives with the canoe trip. We have found this to be a good judge of character. Two of our daughters were home from college with friends of the opposite sex, one of them rather serious and one not so serious, but that wasn’t the point. We have discovered that if they could paddle a canoe around sticks, stumps, logs and sandbars in a coordinated and cooperative manner without complaining then, very likely, they would be able to negotiate other speed bumps in life in the same manner.
It was a nearly perfect day as we drifted around tight corners in the river and watched eagles drifting high above us in the cloudless sky. Surrounded by friends, grown-up children and singing grandchildren, we enjoyed a nearly perfect ending to the summer. We were gratified to watch them working together without serious conflict. As we neared the final destination, our 5-year-old granddaughter, Ella, began to sing at the top of her lungs.
“Row, row, row your boat, Gently down the stream, Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, Life’s a butter dream.”
On that particular sunny, Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t agree more.