A Year of Small Experiments: Summer 2018
The temperature here is in the 50s today, there’s been great progress on the snow-melting front, and our yard is a huge puddle with chunks of ice barely hanging on. I am so intensely happy to walk outside without a massive coat, even though I know March in the midwest could still deliver snow.
In anticipation of the coming spring and summer, I’m busy remembering last summer. It was letting go of some plans and choosing to enjoy simple daily adventures. It was exhaustion at the end of most days and a dreamy 12-day vacation just before fall. As it worked out, last summer was a good one and I have no regrets that my self-imposed projects were mostly set aside.
In the early part of last year I did some work on a project I’d titled “A Year of Small Experiments.” It’s a concept I still love, and yet I’m not in a season where I can commit to that endeavor, so it’s been tabled for the foreseeable future. To be honest, it went a bit off the rails last spring and summer and never resumed. I’d planned to focus on things like hiking/kayaking/paddleboarding, building my photography skills, and dabbling with a sewing e-course.
We did go hiking a couple times. There’s a state park 20 minutes from our house with a wide range of walking paths, hills, dirt, a paved trail, a butterfly garden, and ample picnic space. We chose that activity on two Sunday mornings when the weather was comfortable and there was nothing else competing for our time and attention.
Toddler legs meant that the pace was slow, but she was so proud to walk and explore. Every rock and pebble received the attention it deserved, and the butterflies intermittently hid and peaked out, as they tend to do. This year, those legs are the tiniest bit longer and she’s still highly distractible, but I imagine we’ll love this activity with a newborn in tow too.
In late August last year, we employed grandparent babysitting for 12 days and went on an incredible child-free vacation to the Maldives. It included massive amounts of reading and relaxing, the occasional dip in the pool, one attempt at kayaking and a couple afternoons of paddle boarding.
I am completely understating how awesome and refreshing this trip was, but my point here is that we did try a couple of my designated summer activities. We’ve previously enjoyed kayaking, but the bulky plastic kayak in this experience wasn’t the right fit for us. We much preferred paddle boarding when there was a slight breeze and mostly calm water. Shockingly, reading and champagne-sipping trumped athletic experiments.
The majority of our summer was spent enjoying our family lake cottage, playing in the sand, and exploring playgrounds. There were house projects, grilled dinners, coloring sessions in the air-conditioning, and long days where bedtime couldn’t come soon enough. I imagine this coming summer will feel much the same as we adjust to new rhythms and focus on quality time together. With any luck a couple long weekends away will temporarily satisfy our wanderlust.
I still want to work on my photography and the building of family photo albums, and I’m eager to learn to sew. That said, I find myself choosing the necessary tasks at home, presence with my toddler, naps, reading, and small doses of creativity that don’t require days or months of commitment.
Check out the other posts in this series: A Year of Small Experiments