Friday, August 15, 2014
Late Summer Pleasures
It seems poignant to me that I'm writing this blog post on the night before the first day of the school year. Between making up quite a few snow days this spring and our school district dialing back the start date a whole week in the fall, summer seemed especially short. And now it's gone.
Because of that and a jam-packed schedule, we didn't go on the Big Summer Vacation. I had mixed feelings about it. Because time seems to be slipping away especially fast and my boys becoming men, it felt like a lost opportunity. On the other hand, having a week off at home (let's avoid the word "staycation," shall we?) to sleep in, wear pajama pants, go barefoot, pick tomatoes, and eat ice cream for supper because we felt like it was rare and precious down time for our family.
Which is not to say we did no traveling at all. We journeyed to the local parks. We hung out at the local community pool. We took walks around the neighborhood.
We also did a few short road trips. We visited a zoo. I also learned that uber-agricultural Iowa has six national wildlife refuges. Six. How had I not been to a single one?
So one day, we visited the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. One of the things I love about August in Iowa is the prairie. It is at its sunshine blazing glory-most-high, stretching up to a hot and pale blue heaven.
It smells grassy, dusty, and a little like baked bread. And then there are the flowers.
Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge has as a goal the preservation and reintroduction of native tallgrass prairie. It's a place where you can almost, almost squint your eyes and imagine the land before there was a single powerline, building, fencerow, or plowed field.
I am glad that in the decision not to travel far, we instead found a local gem. I know we'll be back.
But by the time you're reading this, the backpacks and lunchboxes will already have been out the door for the beginning of the school year, and I've got to think about what I can reasonably get accomplished before I have to wrap up outside work for the year. Last year it was Nov. 10, and I wonder how far I can push it this year. Last year it was too rainy the first half of the summer, and most of the work happened in the late summer and fall. It looks like that will be the case this year as well. The kids' summer may be over, but mine isn't yet. I'm actually glad that I've got a few more weeks to soak up the sun on my back, even if I'm up a ladder when it happens.
How's the rest of your summer wrapping up?