Preserving summer.

It’s tomato season. We returned home from a night away from home and the girls were anxious to check out our tiny, yet overstuffed, backyard garden. The tomato plants my grandma had grown from seeds had overpowering the tiny pepper and eggplant plants, a few cucumber plants wound around, trying to find some space to grow. Before I could even join the girls outside, they appeared at the back door, red tomatoes held high, their faces lit up like they had won a prize.

The smell of the sun warmed tomatoes brought me back to my grandma’s garden as a young girl, the baskets full of freshly picked tomatoes sitting on the back patio, waiting to be turned into sauce or gifted to family and neighbors. No store bought tomato could ever come close to a tomato picked from your own backyard.

My grandma’s sauce was one attempt to try and preserve the overwhelming August bounty- a tiny sliver of summer during the darkness of winter, a reminder of what was, as well as hope to pull you through.

A few weeks ago, at our second summer meeting of Teacher Who Write, a common theme seemed to emerge as people shared their words. It seemed that summer allowed people to be a better version of themselves- that during the school year, this being disappeared or wasn’t possible. Summer, in my opinion, is a gift- I reflect on this every year. As a teacher and a mom, it gives me time to just be, without the mad rush the school year seems be usher in. Our writing group left me thinking about my summer self and how to preserve a piece of this throughout the school year, just like my grandma’s tomatoes.

What ingredients would I store away, protected by a glass jar, as a reminder of my summer self? For sure I’d include time. Summer offers a luxury to say yes to things I’m quick to say no to during the school year. Time for an extra board game, another bedtime read aloud, a spontaneous rendezvous with friends, or an extra snuggle on the couch. Time to watch and really listen. To look into my kids eyes as they explain their latest saga or triumph.

I’d bottle up the feeling of self care. Every day this summer, I’ve made time to move and it feels so good. I’ve vowed to keep this going as the school year continues- I know in the busy days of fall and winter, I’ll need a taste of that feeling to get me out of bed before the sun.

I’d add in a healthy dash of visits. Days at the pool with friends, catching up in between watching kids pool tricks and coaching swimming strokes. Mornings at the beach with cousins, savoring this time together. Sitting on my parents’ patio, kids’ joyful screams coming from the yard as they splash in water, swing on the swings, or catch fireflies in the twinkle of the moon. The knowing my sister is just a three minute drive away instead of twelve hours-close enough for a quick stop over or a trip to the store together. The steady arrival and  variety of birds visiting our bird feeder in the kitchen window.

I’d seal the jar with the feeling of lightness that only freedom can bring. Freedom to stay in bed a few minutes longer, to wash my hair or go another day with a messy ponytail, or skip dinner for an extra helping of ice cream. The choice to stay in pajamas rather than do the laundry piling up and go barefoot rather than find your shoes.

So as the sun sets on another summer season, I vow to keep a bit of my summer self stored away, ready to pull out whenever I need a reminder of this treasured time.


Our summer selves.




8 thoughts on “Preserving summer.

  1. Amen! You can do it! I absolutely love the analogy here! “Preserving August’s bounty” is a fabulous line that, of course I relate to! I absolutely love pulling out a frozen garden vegetable on a cold evening! This year, I’ll be reminded of this slice and you! Thanks for sharing!


  2. I’ve enjoyed reading about your summer adventures, including the lazy days at the pool. It is my hope you can bottle up some of summer and infuse bits of it into the school year. (Think of me when you take an extra helping of ice cream in November!)


  3. This is so beautiful! This summer has been too busy for me – too much work and grad school — but I did have a few days that felt like what you described – and I often wonder how to preserve that feeling for the busy school year. Each year, I start the fall, wondering how to slow down! I love thinking about bottling it up as a preserve. And this line: “Summer, in my opinion, is a gift” is perfection.


  4. What a lovely metaphor – and what wonderful things to preserve as the school year arrives again. This post teeters between past and future, using memory to create a sense of purpose. I love it. Also, Rose’s face in the picture is adorable. Her summer self looks like it takes no nonsense!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kudos to you for posting on the first day of school! I love your advice about preserving summer – the metaphor of identifying the most satisfying, freeing parts of summer and bottling them up for later use. Wishing you a wonderful school year and a chance to open that jar frequently!


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