Today during my day of rest, I enjoyed something that I haven’t experienced since my childhood. Pulled out into the garden, and into the bright, warm afternoon, I carried with me a cold iced tea…and a comb.
When I was a little girl, my sisters and I would sit outside and let our long hair, wet from a wash and a rinse, dry in the sunshine. In those lazy days of summer I didn’t dry my hair with a blow-dryer or use a lot of hair products. I combed my hair out and off I went. I had more important things to do.
Now a days, shampooing and conditioning is just the beginning of a daily hair routine that includes a leave in conditioner to protect from the heat of the blow-dryer, straightening to smooth and an anti-frizz gel to finish off.
After toweling away the excess moisture, I loved sitting on the brickio, the hot sun beating down, and combing through my hair. It’s still long. I’ve always had long hair, except for a year with a pixie haircut at age eight. The color has just changed over the years.
Surrounded by the beauty of the garden, slowly combing through my hair became a meditative experience and an act of self care. A breeze stirred through the plants and flowers and lifted my hair, speeding the drying process. The aroma of mint and basil teased my nose.
I fanned my detangled hair out across the back of the chair and closed my eyes with a deep sigh of contentment. I enjoyed the freedom from the dryer and straightener, the simplicity of sitting in the sun. And in a few minutes my hair was dry, giving me just enough time to search for memories tucked away from my childhood and feel nostalgic.
I showed a string of houses to a fun young couple today, starting at 9:00 AM. The majority of the houses were vacant and very warm, due to the air conditioning either being turned off or set at a high temp. With high humidity and a heat index of 98 degrees, we quickly became hot and sweaty. They were troopers though and gratefully, the last house we looked at had the air blasting away. What a relief to linger in that one for a few minutes.
Back in my cool home, later in the afternoon, I was working on a word swag meme, using a picture from my backyard paradise. As I looked for an appropriate summer time quote to accompany the pic, I wondered when the hot, lazy days of summer lost their appeal for me.
I didn’t grow up with central air conditioning. We had a window water cooler when I was a kid, living in Tulsa, OK. But that was it, other than box fans scattered throughout the house. No central air. Not even a window unit. Just that huge, boxy cooler that chilled the air with cold water before blowing it into the room.
I wasn’t inside anyway, on those long summer days. I grew up in a neighborhood full of kids. We played, climbed trees, rode bikes, sprayed each other with garden hoses. Summer meant freedom…from school, homework, extracurricular activities and early bedtimes. I loved summer days and warm, muggy summer evenings, alive with fire flies, crickets and tree frogs.
At night our parents would call us in, and after baths or showers to rinse away the evidence of the day’s fun, my sisters and I would comb out our long wet hair and then grab our pillows and lie on the floor, in front of a humming box fan. When did all that change? When did summer become something to endure as I look forward to cooler fall days?
Musing on these questions, I grabbed a cold bottle of water and headed back out into the brilliant sunshine. Seated in a canvas chair, on the brickio, I grew still and just allowed the day to be what it was…hot, humid, bright. Sitting there quietly, without judgment or complaint, I took in the garden.
Bees and butterflies darted among colorful blossoms. Birds twittered. The ornamental grasses behind me rustled as they swayed. There was a breeze, after all. It carried to me the delicate scents of basil and mint and lemon balm. I settled deeper into my chair and sighed with contentment.
Beauty surrounded me, in the the form of flowers, grasses, and plants. This garden soothes me and brings me deep pleasure and joy. I love it out there. And the heat? I baked. I inhaled heated air. I sweated and then the breeze cooled my skin as it evaporated the moisture. As I did with the rain, last year, I made friends this afternoon with the summer heat.
And actually, that’s not quite right. We were once friends, long ago. I invited the heat, and with it, summer, back as an old friend. I welcomed summer again, and reveled in the sweet freedom and the caressing warmth and the invitation to bask and do nothing more.
As often as I can this summer, I will steal away to the backyard to sit with my old friend and simply enjoy our time of getting reacquainted. I think it’s time to acquire something new for the backyard, something I’ve always wanted but have never owned…a hammock! What a perfect way to enjoy summer.
What a busy day today, meeting with clients and making phone calls and getting mulch down in the newest part of the garden. In between meeting my last two clients for the day, I had the opportunity to have dinner with my son Nate, his fiancé Megan, and their three delightful children at El Charro in Carthage. I had not eaten at this El Charro before, and to really make it a good first, I tried a new dish there, shrimp quesadilla.
I was missing my son and his family. With their busy schedules and mine, it had been too long since I’d seen them and hugged on the kids. It was great to get to be with them, and fun to go to dinner together. I don’t believe I’ve had dinner with this little group by myself before. We often have family dinners for someone’s birthday, where the whole group gathers. But this was special, too, having an intimate dinner.
I rode with the family in the car to El Charro and Joey, Oliver, Aubrey and I sat in the back and chatted. I loved hearing the kids’ news and stories and listening to what’s important to them. We settled in at the restaurant and ordered dinner. These are precious times. I remember what it is like as a parent. Someone needs to use the bathroom, everyone has something special that they want for dinner, each child has something to say. Like Nate and Megan, I had three kids and they can keep you busy!
The wonderful thing about being the grandparent, the Yaya in this case, is that having a boisterous, everyone telling stories at once kind of dinner is great fun for me. It brings back memories of my own young family. And having raised those kids and knowing how fast the time goes by, it reminds me that these children will grow up just as fast. All too soon, they won’t discuss who gets to sit by Yaya in the car or at the restaurant. They won’t be so eager to tell me their stories and they will be embarrassed to hold my hand. And I definitely won’t be able to pick up each one for a hug and a kiss.
Tonight, I didn’t mind escorting the kids to the restrooms, twice each. Or sharing my rice. Or wiping up drips of queso. These children with their bright little faces, curious minds and their open, loving hearts bring me great joy. Nate and Megan are amazing parents and they have every right to be proud of their offspring. I’m proud of them, as parents.
And, the shrimp quesadilla was excellent! Plump shrimp and sautéed onions and green peppers made a delicious and healthy dinner. I’d have this unusual quesadilla again. The restaurant offered friendly service and our meals arrived promptly. We had a fun, engaging meal with lots of interesting conversations and no one, not even me, spilled a drink or even dropped a fork!
Before heading back to Joplin and meeting with my last client, I drew pictures on the driveway with colored chalk, traced around each child as they lay on the driveway, and participated in car races with Hot Wheels. Oh, the incredible joys of summer and childhood. When I’m with my grandchildren, I get to experience both.
Today was a beautiful summer day. The temperatures stayed in the low 80’s and the humidity was lower . I finished work about 7:00 and the outdoors was calling to me. There is a wonderful walking trail right in the center of Joplin. I drive by it almost every day and see people walking, runners running, and dog lovers strolling along with a dog or two trotting beside them. In all my years in Joplin, I’ve never walked on that trail. For my first today, I changed that, and walked a loop on the Campbell Parkway Trail!
After a quick dinner and a change of clothes, I drove to the trail. Located near Connecticut and Murphy Boulevard, the trail is bordered on the north by Campbell Parkway, hence the name. Connecticut Avenue cuts the trail in half, with a loop on each side of that street. I chose to walk on the western portion because the bridges in that area hint at water.
The sun was just starting to set. It was a perfect evening for a walk. The trail is gravel and winds in a loop over two bridges and across manicured grass. A couple strolling hand in hand met me going the opposite direction. I didn’t see any other walkers on this loop. That was okay.
I stopped on the first bridge for a picture, and discovered there is indeed water present. In fact, the creek has a name, Joplin Creek. That was something else I didn’t know. Benches are placed conveniently along the trail. At the eastern end, before I started down the home stretch, I sat for a few minutes. The sun was now behind the trees. It was so gorgeous, so peaceful. I could have relaxed there for a long time, enjoying the end to this day.
I was curious though about a section in this parkway that I see as I drive by every day. There is a fenced off area, with tall grasses and plants growing within it. I speculated it might be a marshy area, fenced off to keep people out. I followed the trail to see what it was. To my delight, I discovered a rain garden. There are a couple of signs nearby that explain the plants and the cycle of the garden and pictures that show the wildlife that frequents such a place. Also included are brief instructions on setting up a rain garden. The fence actually has a large opening for anyone who wants to wade into the tall grasses. I found it to be a beautiful sanctuary. I might have to incorporate a rain garden into my backyard someday.
I stood on the second bridge, at the other end of Joplin Creek, and looked back down the parkway. Such a wonderful walking trail. It is amazing how one can drive by a place and see it every day, and yet not really know it at all. It took leaving the confines of my car and getting out into the space to really see it and experience it. Such a good comparison to life. I can watch from the sidelines and think I’m living. Or I can actively engage, participating full on, and truly know and experience life.
I look forward to many more trips to the Campbell Parkway Trail. This evening I only explored the western trail. I intend to walk there often, increasing the number of loops that I walk and also include the eastern section on the other side of Connecticut, making a larger loop. The fresh air and exercise are good for me. The way my soul expands when I’m in such a beautiful space is even better.