Simple Summer Pleasures

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Photo by Orientaly | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Summer is in full swing here in Virginia’s New River Valley. As I type, birds are singing in the twilight. The grass beneath my feet is soft and lush; the trees are bright green and filled with scampering squirrels and countless types of birds. Leo and I have been enjoying long walks in the park and on the nature trails we’re lucky enough to have right outside our back door. I’m growing herbs and squash in containers on our front porch, and the lemon balm, oregano, and basil are already taking off. Tonight I cooked stir-fry and added some of the sweet basil into the mix.

We live in a go-go-go society. Too often we miss the birdsong and squirrels because we’re focused on other things. Too often we forget to drink in the forest’s tranquility because we’re distracted by modern life. Too often we don’t savor the taste of fresh basil because something else is calling our attention away.

True contentment, I believe, is slowing down enough to enjoy these things. True contentment means embracing moments of stillness and the small moments of joy that are all around us—if only we’re paying attention.

So what did I do this week, aside from some container gardening and long walks? I wrote 3,612 words in Fates Entangled. I did a lot of refreshing of my social media presence. I’ve been more active on Facebook, tried a new Twitter chat, updated my cover images for Facebook and Twitter, and started planning some changes to this website for the launch of Spellfire’s Kiss, hopefully this autumn. I continued reading Courting Darkness by Yasmine Galenorn.

On the home front, hubby and I are talking more and more about saving up to buy or build a house in the country. He really wants to live in a yurt, so we’re researching that option. No definite plans yet—this is all just dreaming out loud. But it’s something that might be out there on the horizon. And long summer days and warm summer nights are the perfect time for such dreams.

What about you? What are your favorite summer pleasures?

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13 thoughts on “Simple Summer Pleasures

  1. This is why I think I suffer from summer-time Seasonal Affective Disorder – I wish I could enjoy summer, but the pace is still go, go, go. As much as I try to slow down and enjoy the nice weather (which just started two days ago, before that it was cold and nonstop rain), I don’t get any time off from the day job and my poor hubby has to work even more hours than usual, so we never see each other. But I do try really hard to spend some time outside just relaxing whenever I can. Some how it seems like an oxymoron, though, to have to work at relaxing. Right?

    • I think what you’re experiencing is all too common in America. I’m reading Janet Luhrs’s The Simple Living Guide, and she calls this time stress. We’re constantly on the go and it gets hard to relax. I think it’s something we can all relate to. My husband is working full-time and working on his master’s degree, so I know he relates, too!

  2. You are right about that, that we’re to busy to reflect and relax and enjoy simple things. That’s why I love camping so much. It forces me to unplug and just be in nature.

    Well done on your work this week!

    • I haven’t done much camping, but I would like to. I love the idea of roasting marshmallows on the campfire, gazing up at the stars, and being that close to nature. We already own a tent; I guess the next step is just to start! Thanks, Erin!

  3. Every July, the kids and I spend four days camping with other unschooling families in Plymouth, MA> There’s a lake, and we spend a great deal of our time there. When we started going, the kids were 8 and 6, and I needed to be with them every moment. Last year, both were largely independent, at 14 and just turned 12.

    This summer, I travel with two teenagers for the first time. We’ll be right next to my son’s two best friends, who both live in PA, so he hasn’t seen them since January.

    There are other wonderful things about summer, but that’s the shining part, for me.

    Looks like you’re enjoying a simpler, more mindful pace. And I’m with your husband – living in a yurt would be pretty awesome!

    • That sounds like a wonderful experience, both for you and your kids. It’s amazing to watch them grow up. I don’t have any children, but I do have two nieces and two nephews, and watching them grow from these tiny infants who can’t fend for themselves to clever and curious children to bright and independent teenagers is a wonderful experience. Our oldest niece is 14 now. How time flies!

      • It is amazing! Not only do I get to see my kids getting more and more independent and capable in that setting (the first year we went they were just 6 and not quite 9; this year they’ll both be teens for the first time!), I also get to see their friends growing up.

        And I have lots of mom time, and more time to enjoy than I did when they were small.

        The first couple of years we went and did things in Plymouth, but they’ve seen the Mayflower II and Plimoth Plantation, so now they mostly want to hang with their friends at the lodge or the lake or someone’s campsite, and that’s just fine, too. =D

  4. Good going Denise! It’s good to take a step back and relax, take count of the positive things that surround us. Love the picture! It looks so serene. And yet, you accomplished over 3,000 words this last week. Right on!! What is my summer pleasure? Air conditioning. Yes, my needs are simple. But oh so necessary here in Phoenix. 🙂

    • Thanks, Karen! Yes, AC in the Southwest is a must. For us, too, here in Virginia. Luckily our summers aren’t crazy hot, and we can enjoy lots of time outdoors. In some areas summer is so hot that you’re stuck inside–much like winter in opposite parts of the country. Our winters here are still pretty awful–not a lot of snow, but lots of cold and wind. But the summers are perfect enough to make me forget all of those moments that I storm into the house in January, teeth chattering from the cold, face burning from the wind, and say, “That’s it; we’re moving to California!” 🙂

  5. Wow, summer sounds so lovely where you are. I agree, it’s important to learn to slow down and enjoy the moment. (Something I still fail at, most days, haha.) And many congrats on all your accomplishments this past week! That word count is excellent…

    • Thanks, Heather! Summer in Virginia is gorgeous, as is autumn. Winters here in the mountains can be rather brutal, but the summers make up for it. I’m trying to be more mindful, but part of that is accepting that I just have a constant whirlwind of thoughts in my head trying to drive me to distraction. And part of it is accepting those thoughts without getting sucked in. It’s a challenge!

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