August 1st comes every year. Yet somehow, I am taken by surprise each time the balmy days roll into August. I panic.
It somehow signals the end. The end of summer days. Warm evenings and fire-red sunsets are no more. Crickets and frogs go to sleep. The rivers and air ice over. My kids go back to school and there is no more time for spontaneous trips or throwing the football in the back yard. The era of lizards and chlorine scented hair is no more.
Can you tell how much I love summer?
Of course I would grieve it’s end.
There is only one problem.
I have a month left to enjoy, not grieve.
In my panic, I can only think of all I have NOT been able to experience. All the limit, none of the luxury.
I am not present but anxious.
As I wrestled through this panic, I decided to hold my hand up to anxiety and force it back. NOT in a “I will put activities on the calendar come hell or high water!” Because that would just be me trying to control.
My refusal of panic is simple.
I determine, despite to-do lists, large dreams (wanting to through-hike the PCT, publish a book, start a non-profit), despite 4 children and 1 husband with different schedules, I will choose one act of play daily.
Every. Single. Day.
Want to hear August 1st act of play?
A spontaneous hike with 3 of my kids plus my nephew on a river trail 10 minutes from my house. I have run/hiked this trail 100 times. It is not new nor exciting.
But it mattered.
My daughter shoulders the nice camera in hopes of finding beautiful instagram pictures.
My 11 year old son says, “I love this trail.”
My 7 year old says, I remember the waterfall on this trail (Ok, it’s really a log jam but pretty nonetheless).
My nephew says, “I’ve never hiked to the logjam!”
I smile and absorb their gleeful energy. Grateful.
Not 5 minutes into the trail and my daughter has galloped long ahead of us.
The boys and I discover salmon berries. Ripe. Melt in your mouth. Taste like fresh jelly salmon berries. Salmon berries have been a little kiss from God to me this summer. And here they are again and I get to share them with my boys. My nephew exclaims, “These are my new favorite fruit!”
The boys each find pygmy horned lizards. They are cute. My youngest asks if he can bring his home. I end up carrying this little lizard for 3 miles of the hike. We get home and his dad researches what they eat and what kind of habitat they need. Dirt is gathered and red ants are hunted by headlamp.
It was a funny play. I am not really a lizard person. But I do delight in my little man. And like how he loves the lizard. I do marvel at the lizard’s white belly and grippy claws that allow him to ride on my son’s shoulder like a parrot.
The day passed. It’s August 4th now. My daily act of play has not gone smooth every day. On August 2nd the only play afforded me was to purchase two magazines to dream of upcoming adventures. I read them after dark, in the warm night on my Adirondack chair. I had to squint a little because I didn’t want so much light that the warm night was illuminated. It was luxury.
August 3rd was spent at the fair with my family. I was trying not to be irritated that my two oldest who were certain they wanted to go, lasted 1/2 on the rides before they were “too hot.” Granted, it was 102 degrees. When we got home at 3pm, I didn’t feel like being outside to play. However, in the mail came some outdoor cushions for my patio. I had made myself wait until they went on sale to purchase. Instead of bemoaning that summer was almost over by the time I got them, I placed them, grabbed two cold beers from the fridge and invited my husband to sit with me and enjoy them. The kids got Dairy Queen blizzards on our way home from the fair. We waited for beer. This family does Blizzards and beer.
Today is August 4th. I felt panicky again. My kids are going every which way. Two are working. Two have a friend over. I feel a bit tied to the house. It’s hot as Hades and smoky from a nearby forest fire. Today’s play is twofold: Finish this blog post. When I wrap words around my experience, I solidify it my heart. And the second, is to capture a picture of a hummingbird’s belly as it flies overhead.
Join me, if you will. Snap a picture or pen few words of your play. #jillinkedplay. Let’s end this summer with daily play no matter how small. I choose to revel in the luxury of being alive and being present to my life.