The Final Stretch of Summer

It’s the final stretch of summer: August, the month in which boredom crescendos and humidity settles into the corners of my house, exposing odors that are decades old.

Last week we woke up to a bat in the corner of our bedroom. He’d been circling our sleeping heads until our cats woke us up chasing him. Now I wake up at night whenever the cats make a noise. My sleep is sweaty and fragmented. I crave coffee all day.

Also last week, I was officially hired to freelance on a marketing project. I’m pulsing with neediness to exceed expectations. The project outcome relies on research that has yet be conducted, which makes things dicey and unknown. I’m pacing, in my damp house, giving myself little pep talks and instruction.

I haven’t been blogging because I’ve been directing my energy at my kids and working and the return of bat. But lately, occasional lessons have poked through. I feel like I should sit down and write about them, but I’m self-conscious. My fingers have lost their ability to translate. My brain is sluggish and critical.

*******************************

Several weeks ago we went blueberry picking. It was sunny and beautiful out, so I pulled my daughters off their summer drug of “Toddlers and Tiaras” and threw them into the Honda. With windows open, we drove to a berry farm near a lake. It’s called “Sandy Bottom Farm,” a name that conjures up gritty bathing suits and sunburned cheeks.

As we walked with buckets into the rows of blueberry bushes, I delighted in the summer scenery: blue skies, humming cicadas and every so often, a cool breeze calming our skin. We started the pulling at berries and dropping them into buckets, but despite the lazy day, I felt an urgent need to finish. I would grab one or two handfuls off one tree and then move on to find a better tree. Rather than stand quietly and pick, I kept wandering in search of a better bush.

Off in the distance I could hear other people yelling out things like, “Hey, guys, I found the best bush,” and I’d feel myself getting competitive and anxious — was there a better bush that I was missing? My youngest daughter ran off to investigate, unable to stick with one bush for more than three or four berries. I started to sweat. I swatted at bees, growing annoyed. I needed to find the best bush.

Then I came across my eldest daughter. She was still standing in the shade of her first bush, calmly picking it clean. She was practically humming. Her fingers were blue. Her bucket was full.

Okay, yes — the metaphor is obvious, but I give myself credit for noting it. I can’t keep flailing around, imagining better bushes. I need to relish this time, standing still and filling my bucket with what’s in front of me.

So with that: cheers to this last week of summer vacation — to lazy mornings, ice cream, good books, long naps, sunburned shoulders and sandy bottoms.

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141 thoughts on “The Final Stretch of Summer

  1. I’ve always felt that blueberry picking is allegorical to our daily lives. I love how the small berries add up to big things, how patience is rewarded, how the best berries fall willingly into your hands while those that aren’t ready will come but only after struggle…

    My best blueberry picking experience was — as is usually the case — my first. We were picking blueberries on an overcast summer day as a misty rain fell over us and a breeze made the damp air as chilly as autumn itself. It was definitely the best of both worlds and has yet to be repeated!

    Excellent post. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

    1. Wow — extending the metaphor, I likely. I especially love your view that the ones that aren’t ready will come, but only after a struggle. You’re good. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Do pep talks help?
    I guess if I was allowed to punch a person who is giving me a pep talk it would help.
    In your case it is not a very good idea.

    I was looking at my tomatoes today, they definitely in need of instruction to ripen before the snow.

    1. What a wonderful post. Yes pep talks do help….”grown-ups” call them affirmations. And saying them over and over does help to conect the conscious and subconscous.
      I want to commend STST on being able to be open to the fact that children (and we were children once) realize that every moment is to be relished as if the last delicious meal you will ever eat. It speaks to the fact taht people are becoming more aware of what being focused on ‘now’ truly means AND that it is okay to stop youself in the midst of a “There’s gotta be a better one” flow and say “Hey, I am gonna enjoy right now, no conditions, no attachment to who got the better one.”
      I am a Personal POwer Coach and have written a book about this very subject, being open to attracting The Best Thing in every moment, no matter what it is. Well Done on Freshly Pressed!!! πŸ™‚ AmberLena

    2. @fornormalstepfathers: Yes, see the pep talk is to avoid the punching as I’m prone to doing it (self-punching, that is).

      Tomatoes seem to be dragging their feet here, too. I find putting them in paper bags helps.

  3. I woke up this morning just a little saddened at the thought that this is the last real week of summer…I needed to read your post today! Thanks so much and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! πŸ˜€

  4. As a hobby poet, I always read anything with an eye to improving my own poetry work. This is beautifully written with great depth and understanding of your world. The pictures are awesome. Congrads on be chosen for FP. It is easy to understand why you were chosen.

  5. Enjoy this last week of summer. Enjoy your new job/project. Be good to yourself. Thanks for posting this. Very happy to read you again!

  6. My husband and I love silent berry picking, and this year, late on a very hot Sunday afternoon, we managed just that. Alone in far rows of bushes, just the crows and the bees. Perfect.

    1. I know, I say I’m going to enjoy the moment, but then I find myself sweating and jogging through a blueberry patch. It helps to be reminded, yes?.

  7. You know what’s sad? I have learned this lesson, 8/9/10/217 times and yet still it needs learning. I don’t think I will ever stop learning this lesson.

    Also sad, I know all too well what you mean by “pulsing with neediness.” So much so that I’m jealous i didn’t type it first.

  8. Isn’t that true for so much of life, “…I’d feel myself getting competitive and anxious β€” was there a better bush that I was missing?”

    Nice post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed! πŸ™‚

  9. Just love this post… gives me a very needed advise in front of my last days of vacation.
    Thanks, glad to have found you.

    Congrats for being Freshly Pressed.

  10. I really find the way you write compelling…the imagery of blueberry picking and the lazy summer afternoon against the anxiety ridden thoughts is perfect, and something I write about often. Thanks for sharing and I’m glad to have found your blog!

  11. I like this. My best summers are a child were picking blueberries and saskatoons with my family. That feeling of having enough, right here, right now, can get so elusive once we’re all grown up and worried about everything. Lovely post. Thank you for sharing it with us. (And good luck with your new project!)

  12. Hey hey congrats on being freshly pressed. I LOVE your writing style….it’s uhh–how do i say it?–very, very romantic:)

    Your title hooked me and the rest of your message hit a chord with me. I’ve always fantasized about picking berries with a girl lol.

    I love your metaphor. It’s a great reminder how people need to slow down and enjoy what they have. The idea is simple, but by your putting this concept into images of berry-picking, the concept comes alive.

    Thanks for the reminder:)

  13. It’s like I’m reading a blogpost about having spent a distant summer in the Philippines… NO, NOT IN MANILA! I’m talking about Boracay, Camarines Sur, and Sagada… πŸ™‚

  14. Life is always blue=er on the other side of the… well, maybe that’s pushing the metaphor. It’s always hard to see summer tip-toe away from us, but then again, the first day of school in new clothes, those cool autumn evenings on the porch and Saturdays raking up the fallen leaves … that’s gotta be appealing too.
    Great writing and great post! Congrats on the fp!

  15. Mom and i would pick berries, rather my mom would pick berries well into her nineties and could do it for hours. I would carry them mostly. Mom would go to our bush and pick wild elderberries, wild raspberries, morrell mushrooms etc and just enjoy the work and the day.She didn’t really look for a better bush she just loved the work involved.

  16. Love this post. Thank you for sharing. I remember blueberry picking as a kid back in the day when it earned me an entire 7 cents a pound at a local farmer’s field. It does not seem like much payment by today’s standards, and although money went further in those days, it wasn’t even all that much back then. But it was relaxing. Will never forget the sound of the plop the berries first made when they landed in the bottom of the empty coffee can tied around my waist. Just thinking about it makes me smile…..

    I write this comment in the full knowledge that akismet may treat it as spam. It would not be the first time, as someone has kindly just told me that is where they found my komment on their post. However, I will persevere and continue anyhow, rather than stress about it.
    Perhaps you will look in your spam queue despite your busy schedule. There is always hope.

    In the meantime, glad you were able to enjoy some of the last moments of summer….

  17. Your use of “blue fingers” may be a hidden metaphor as well. I’m thinking that by sticking with the beaten path as you daughter did, you may incur a lot of bruises. . . ???

  18. I live in the Northeast and felt like July was August and August has been September weather. So, I am ready for the fall and football. However, I will miss summer. You are third person I know that had a bat in their house. Great blog!

  19. Just discovered your blog. Lovely. I’m a freelancer too, and I know the thrill and chill of taking on a new project, not being sure if you can handle it or if their expectations are different from yours.

    Love the fact that the cats woke you to the bat as well. Would you have slept through the night, without a thought, if they hadn’t? So the bat wasn’t that bad. I know I’d be scared as well. But it’s good to think that the bat was probably as scared at you were, particularly of the cats!

    And beautiful, your commentary on the blueberries. I don’t have children, but these kind of posts make me feel the special bond between parent and child in an especially true way.

  20. Beautiful picture of the berries, and you have a beautiful way of articulating that just-so-August feeling. One of those times I say, “Yes! That’s it!” and wonder why I can’t articulate it so well myself.

  21. First time visitor here, lovely photograph, instantly caught my eye and then I had to read the post and Im very glad I did.
    Lovely post and nicely put metaphor! πŸ™‚

    Cheers.

  22. Amazing, how you could interweave a real experience with a subtle philosophy. Best wishes for your blog, your family, your project and the blueberries with which you’ll be making scrumptious dishes!!

  23. Wow, great post. I can’t imagine how you approach making a marketing pitch without knowing the outcome of the research. Great for you who know how to do such work, and withstand the stress. The follow-up lesson with the blueberries was apt, I hope you can harness energy and achieve flow in your project the way your daughter did with her full blueberry bucket.

    Your vivid writing brought me immediately back to the last blueberry picking experience I had. And, the anxiety you described really nailed the feelings I’m going through right now in my running training program. I just want it to work NOW, today, maybe I should be doing hills, or more repeats, or a long run…when I know I just need to take a deep breath, go one day at a time and stick to a program in order to hit my goal.

    I look forward to seeing how it turns out!

    1. Wow – just checked out your blog. Very cool idea. I’ll be taking a look at that often. Good luck with your running training — looks like a very cool place to train.

  24. Been there (blueberry bushes), done that (blue fingers, et al.)

    Sounds like time well spent, flailing or otherwise. πŸ™‚

  25. I know how you feel. Our last week ended 9 days ago. Now I find myself back with a classroom of fresh faces and new schedules. My daughter is growing faster than I would like…and although my life seems to move at a rapid pace, I feel completely sluggish. I think I am in shock.

    1. Me, too: total shock. I can’t seem to why I walked in this room or what I was saying. And all I want to do is nap. New schedules make me want to nap – always.

  26. Thanks for the wake up call πŸ™‚ Do you mind if I put a link to your blog on mine? I think my readers would enjoy this πŸ™‚

  27. And for us it’s the last week of winter so the garden is starting to shoot and flower and the weather has started to warm up. Great posting though

    1. Thanks. Funny how as parents we delineate our lives: “parenting life” and “life in general.” So true. I think I’m much better in my “life in general.”

  28. NO! The final stretch? Really? But weren’t we just getting started? Sigh. I suppose it’s all the more reason to live slow this weekend, take it all in, then look forward to the color show that is autumn. Love your writing. While I haven’t made the full-time leap out of the city, I understand the pull. Best of luck to you.

  29. This reminded me of when we lived up north and the blueberries were wild and grew under the jack pines. I still remember that wonderful smell, it wasn’t always fun, but what great memories we have. Thanks for bringing it all back. I love this summery reminder.

    All the best Flo

  30. With your quality of writing you really should attempt to post more. I think a lot of peeps out their would want to following your story. The pic of the berries is beautiful. Good-luck at the bat situation. My daughter-law is going through the same situation…

  31. […] It's the final stretch of summer: August, the month in which boredom crescendos and humidity settles into the corners of my house, exposing odors that are decades old. Last week we woke up to a bat in the corner of our bedroom. He'd been circling our sleeping heads until our cats woke us up chasing him. Now I wake up at night whenever the cats make a noise. My sleep is sweaty and fragmented. I crave coffee all day. Also last week, I was officiall … Read More […]

  32. What a truly lovely post! I am learning the exact same lesson alongside you. I am a Scottish student currently spending a semester working in Costa Rica. Next semester I’ll be in France, studying at the UniversitΓ© de Strasbourg. Before making the Big Move here to Central America, I spent weeks and months picturing myself walking to the farmer’s market and buying myself a big juicy mango to eat in the park… that sort of thing. Now that I’m here, I find myself surfing blogs full of blueberry pie recipes and longing for a day when I can settle down, cook for myself and my family, and not always be preparing for the next journey.

    I need to stop looking ahead, always searching for a bigger, better bush. I need to stop, look, listen, and relax in the sure and certain knowledge that once I do settle down into a house with a picket fence and a pear tree, I will look back and miss the time I spent here with banana trees in the back garden and lines of parrots on every telephone pole.

  33. I’ve never gone berry picking…it’s on my “list.” Something about it seems so peaceful…then you mentioned finding the best bush. There goes my serenity. I think my competitiveness is borderline insane…

  34. […] Vaccinium koreanum Vaccinium myrsinites (Blueberry Daun Hijau) It's the final stretch of summer: August, the month in which boredom crescendos and humidity settles into the corners of my house, exposing odors that are decades old. Last week we woke up to a bat in the corner of our bedroom. He'd been circling our sleeping heads until our cats woke us up chasing him. Now I wake up at night whenever the cats make a noise. My sleep is sweaty and fragmented. I crave coffee all day. Also last week, I was officiall … Read More […]

  35. Wow this is inspiring!Your post just made me hungry. I really enjoyed your post .Love the photographs and your story!Thank you for sharing that.

  36. I really enjoyed your post. I often venture out with my boys and pick fruit around our area. it’s good for the soul and lets us get back in touch with reality. Terrific blog, I’ll be back πŸ™‚

  37. […] https://smalltownsmalltimes.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/the-final-stretch/#comment-1196 Eco World Content From Across The Internet. Featured on EcoPressed Another thought on our Food Supply Advertisement LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "0"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_bg", "f9fbf9"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_border", "bebcad"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_text", "666666"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_link", "5f5f5f"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_url", "9f9f9f"); LD_AddCustomAttr("LangId", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Autotag", "family"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Autotag", "food"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Autotag", "health"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Tag", "thoughts"); LD_AddSlot("wpcom_below_post"); LD_GetBids(); Share this:ShareFacebookEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 at 5:15 pm and posted in Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. « Beth Moore […]

  38. I love this blog post! It’s funny how we get so caught up looking for the next best thing that we don’t take the time to see what is right in front of us…keep writing…please also check out my blog at gracewaters.wordpress.com! Looking forward to interacting back and forth!

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