I’m a summer baby. Literally. I was born on the first day of summer, and it has always been my favorite season. When temps hit the upper 80s,
I finally start to thaw out from the frigid winter and
brisk spring. The garden is growing (weeds are too,
but we won’t talk about that), school is “officially”
over (although I still assign summer reading and
minimal math), and opportunities abound for enjoying the outdoors. We have to take advantage of that
here in the north.
Growing up in the Central Valley of California I
never truly appreciated the individual seasons or
the uniqueness of that area. It was all I knew, and I
thought the whole world was like that. The weather
would go from warm to hot to slightly cool and then
back to warm again. The one winter when it actually
“snowed” (a light dusting that didn’t last twenty minutes), my brother and I were so excited we scooped
up the precious flakes in plastic bowls to save in the
My great aunt and uncle visited from Iowa when
I was about eight. As we drove around, my aunt
kept asking what all the trees were. I could identify
virtually any nut or fruit tree at a glance, so I was
dumbfounded that she didn’t know what an orange
tree looked like!
When I moved away from home and went to college
in Missouri, I was stunned by the beauty of the
autumn maple leaves in their glorious colors. I hadn’t
seen many maple trees growing up.
When I married and moved to South Dakota, I was
shocked that you could walk outside in winter and
literally have your nose hairs freeze; that snow could
stay on the ground for a solid six months … and
people didn’t think a thing of it.
We tend to get used to the peculiarities of our own
regions—and take them for granted. Is your soil rich
and black or a sandy loam? Are you surrounded by
evergreens, apple trees, or even cacti? Do you have
lightning bugs, dragonflies, or lady bugs buzzing
What is naturally unique about your area? What
would any visitor to your region not be able to miss?
What aspect of creation can you take the time to
enjoy with your family this summer? We live in a
vast world with so many different climates, flora, and
fauna. Pay attention to what surrounds you. Do you
live near the ocean, or within driving distance of a
river or lake? Is there a mountain or forest nearby?
But don’t think you have to go somewhere to see
something amazing. Look outside your back door.
Do you have colorful birds that came to visit your
homestead? Do you have beavers building a dam in
the back forty (my brother does at his place!)? Do
you have blue-bellied lizards with two tails scurrying
under the porch? (I saw a few of those growing up.)
Look around you with fresh eyes this summer.
Take some time to pause from your labor and enjoy
the natural beauty that surrounds you. See things
again—for the first time.
Notes fromthe Homestead