This July has come bounding upon us, full of warmth and giddy good feelings, much like the way the neighbor's dog greets us, with his tail wagging. With screen doors shutting and sand or grass perpetually stuck to the bottoms of our feet, my family knows that summer is here. Meals and showers are had outside. Food comes in from outside. Brilliant sun and dappled shade call to us, come outside. The surf crashes, the sea breeze whispers, sea fog coats us, outside. New growth, new blooms, new beauty; we'll suddenly find ourselves walking the garden, drawn there, mesmerized, outside. And we gather, come together, outside. We reach for summer, we reach outside.
photo by Olivia Bradstreet
Last week, Olivia spent well over twelve hours producing the July 4 Blunt Youth Radio Show she co-hosted, called What Does July 4 Mean To You? There was much she had to do for this show, including interviewing and recording numerous people in our town. She arranged for local historian Herb Adams to be a guest on the show. And after a morning walk and quick dip in the ocean on the fourth, Olivia had to be at the station by late afternoon, until the show was over at 830pm. That evening, we gathered with friends, ate leftovers and cooked hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire and listened to the show. By reaching outside, Olivia and others on the show, provided us all with a fascinating look at not only our nation's history, but how people view Independence Day today. We're proud of you, Olivia!
Saturday morning, I found myself, outside, lured by the scent of roses in our garden. We had spent the day before, tidying and weeding and it was so peaceful and serene, and as it had rained the evening before, everything was dewy. The morning sun, filtered through the maple tree filled our garden with lemony light.
As the kids opted for a slow wake-up and it was the day before our big family gathering, Alex and I went together to pick strawberries at Maxwell's Farm. Despite the fairly early hour, the farm was busy with like-minded folk in search of fraises. With the clear sky and bountiful sunshine, and fields full of ripe fruit, in very short order we were done. Once home, and pre-party chores doled out and divided, I sat outside and hulled and cleaned many quarts of strawberries, destined for shortcake the next day.
Once the strawberries were dealt with, I prepared potato salad, pasta salad, baked French bread and a huge batch of biscuits for the next day, while Alex and the kids cleaned house. In the evening, however, we returned outside, for supper, showers and water gun battles.
On Sunday, July 3, we were up early to finish preparing for our afternoon lobster dinner with family. Outside, it looked like rain with only the occasional peek of sun, so we crossed our fingers that rain would hold off until evening. I went out to the garden to cut flowers for the green jug, the kids set the table, the food was dished, guests arrived and we gathered together, outside, and it didn't rain. Well, at least not until much later, and it only sprinkled. Some of us walked down to the beach and some napped, bellies full.
On Monday, July 4, a gorgeous, perfect summer day called us outside, so up we got and we walked into Ocean Park to see the festivities. There was a parade, and the small village was decked out in red, white and blue bunting. Hot and ready for a swim, we went home to pack up a picnic for the beach. I hung laundry, too. As I drove Olivia into Portland for her broadcast, the sky was darkening. By the time I got home, Alex and Adam were being hurried up the hill by thunder claps, and I was rushing to get the laundry off the line. We had a brief and welcome downpour and soon the sun was shining once again. There may have been a little napping before our friends visited.
On Tuesday, Alex had a vacation day, so we were once again, up early and ready for a day outside, relaxing. We packed another picnic and went to one of our favorite ponds. We all needed that day, of simple fun and rest.
And last evening, outside once again, a July thunderstorm was brewing and we kept watchful eyes on the sky as the wind gusted and clouds blotted out the sun.
July calls on us to extend ourselves, to reach, to explore new things, to seek new growth, to revel in summers delights. I feel so fortunate to live in such a beautiful place, a place that has numerous discoveries awaiting anyone willing to look for them, outside.