Summer is a curious one for me.
In my childhood memories, it is the epitome of freedom. Lingering days that spin on for what feels like forever; riding off on my bike at lunch time; my only agenda to be home before dark.
While it was never my favorite season, I enjoyed it fully.
As an adult (and as homeschoolers), summer is different. In truth, this season isn’t distinct than any other as our learning and work time go, except that our school friends share some of our freedom. Then there is the heat, and here in Wisconsin anyway, the near 100% humidity for days, even weeks on end. (Have I mentioned that I’m a spring and fall girl? It’s true.)
This year, though, I’ve made an effort to embrace these sticky hot days. To let it sink into my bones, then relish the relief found in a plunge in our spring-fed creek, the unheated outdoor shower, or a mist from the icy-cold garden hose.
And this year, of course, we began gardening again, which has fed my soul–and my family–in the most nourishing of ways.
And then, of course, there is the foraging.
This time last year I was in the thick of book writing and photography. There was an intensity to my need to get out and harvest, photograph, and recipe test while I had the chance. I found myself racing against time, catching blooms before they faded, the season at its peak. There was an urgency to the season that I am unaccustomed to.
This year though it is simply for the joy and pleasure of the harvest that we forage. No agenda, no deadline, no fuss. We’ll fill our bags and our jars and our larder or we won’t. No pressure, just the joy of this process and this moment in life, in season, in time.
With that in mind, Lupine and I set off a couple of days ago in search of bee balm, yarrow, and magic.
And, indeed, we found all three.
We filled our foraging bags with more monarda than we had picked all year, then set to work picking a late flush of St. John’s Wort, some self-heal, and blue and hoary vervain. We picked mullein flowers and motherwort, yarrow and more.
And then Lupine looked over, as I paused, my hand slowly moving over a flower.
“Are you petting a bumblebee, mama?”
“Yes,” I whispered.
“That is the cutest–the cutest–thing I have ever, ever seen!
“In my entire life,” she added.
The next thing I knew, Lu and I were wandering the pasture in search of docile bumblebees to pet. It’s something I’m certain we will never forget.
And then it was time to go. We said goodbye to the bees, and headed home to process our bounty.
In my world, I suppose, this is summer. It’s not water parks or swimming pools; it’s not store-bought ice cream or bright and busy theme parks. It’s foraging bags brimful with a fragrant harvest; it’s petting bumblebees in a pasture as the sun sinks low, it’s the scent of bee balm on my hands.
This is summer–in its abundance, in its magic, in its simple, messy, homegrown perfection.