Every morning when I leave my house to head off to work, I stare wistfully at the backyard out my kitchen door. The lilies are coming out now, and the pink flowers and lush green lawn look picture perfect (well, until August, when everything gets this brown-ish tint). I'd love nothing more than to set out a lounge chair and read in the cool morning air, but ... work.
At night, when I come home, my daughter regales me with stories about what she did at camp. She made a bowl in glass fusing! She learned how to use a pinhole camera! She won the fencing match! It's awesome to hear her so excited. But, truth, I get a slight bit wistful, too. I loved going to camp. If there were an adult day camp in my area, I'd take a week off work and go.
This feeling strikes every summer. For some reason, my adult brain still cannot comprehend that I am not entitled to a big break. Yes, we do family summer vacations -- a week at the shore, a few long weekends here and there. But my inner kid still demands the summer off. It sure doesn't help to be cooped up inside a New York City office tower.
Compounding all this is the realization that my life is zooming by; kids tend to make you acutely aware of that (mine are now 11 and 9). Summer is a season that's ripe with pleasures: browsing the bounty at farmers' markets, jumping into pools, breathing in that smell of fresh-cut grass. I should be enjoying this stuff now! It's not fair, says that pesky inner kid.
Over the years, I've come up with little treats that give me that summer break feeling. A few times a week, I tear myself away from my desk at work, hit the park with a cup of gazpacho, and picnic on a bench. We BBQ a lot during the weekdays, especially welcome because you can put any food on our grill and my husband will happily cook it. (Getting a break from meal prep = major summer relief.) On occasion, I duck out of work early and take the kids for an evening swim at the local pool. At night, I sit on the porch and do my writing there instead of at my desk, just me and the fireflies. (Fun fact: When male fireflies go cruising for a mate, they flash a light pattern to show they're available -- so much cooler than pick-up lines.)
The other day, a particularly hot and sticky one, I discovered the best treat of all as I walked home from my commute. A neighbor had one of those vacillating sprinklers on her front lawn. I paused. I put down my leather tote and took off my canvas wedges. And then I walked right through the water streams. And I walked back. Again and again and again. Nobody was around to see me, and it felt slightly naughty ... not to mention refreshing.
Summer: Not just for kids.
Image via Mike Goren/Flickr