As I sit in my non-air-conditioned home during the hottest days of “summer” I reflect, with mixed feelings, on the blur that was summer.

Weather-wise, it was not a great summer. It was rainy and muggy and cloudy. We didn’t make it to our favorite local beach once.

We did manage to go to three family reunions and a multitude of picnics and parties and family gatherings, some of which took place at the beach. But often, the days felt raindrops or strong northeast winds.

Nevertheless, we enjoyed some beautiful moments out on the water. I am not a camper. But I must admit, camping out on the beach and waking up to that sunrise and a quiet morning sail was lovely.

Packing for one night of camping? Not so lovely. Nor the week of laundry recovery it took…..

Still, summer was full. A balance, if it can possibly be, of busily working, helping manage kids’ work schedules and bucket lists….

As summer rapidly approached its end, time was consumed by getting two kids ready for college and two for high school. I tried not to focus on the things I “didn’t do.” I asked the kids which activities they really hoped to do? They all agreed that biking in the Cuyahoga Valley was top on their list. This was an activity we did annually as a family in the fall. But due to school schedules, we hadn’t managed to do together in a few years. My husband couldn’t join us, but I took the kids and we had a fun time. The boys learned the power of the river when they tried to cross it. One step beyond the one in the photo above and they were swept away.

Annie’s bucket list is always fun. She was finally able to cross off lighting her lanterns as she and her cousins lit six of them and we watched them float above the lake. She also put a message in a bottle and got an interesting response, but I will save that for another post.

Why does the end of summer always arrive too quickly? Why is it always so hot in August? Why do we drive our kids to college and one week later, many of them come home for Labor Day? Why do I lament so much what summer should be?

We move forward, start fresh. And then tragedy strikes. Our community lost a young man. A son, a brother, a friend. The pit in my stomach reminds me of the suffering of the family. It reminds me how precious life is.
Annie put together a slide show for our annual family reunion at the beach and she asked for music recommendations. So I suggested John Denver’s “Sunshine on My Shoulders.” She loved it! I hadn’t listened to John Denver in years, so I bought the album on Itunes and haven’t stopped listening to it.  The album took me back to summers at Put-In-Bay spent with our neighbors…listening to the John Denver record playing throughout the cottage, bug juice, learning to water ski, swimming, running around town.  And that led to thoughts of my old neighborhood, “Shore Acres”, and running barefoot on concrete, swimming off the rocks, boating…playing board games on the porches with my girlfriends…and Mary….remembering Mary who was taken from us at far too young an age.
I was transported back in time by music. How does music take me there? Maybe it’s just nostalgia. Maybe it just good music. Maybe I’m just an old fuddie duddie – like our parents who thought the Beatles were bad. When our kids hear “Thrift Shop” or a Miley Cyrus song or some rap, will it speak to their soul and transport them somewhere?
It has been a time of sending forth. And a time of sadness.  I am grateful for the moments we can slow down and be present with the kids. I love the baseball games, the football games, the backyard barbecues,
the family parties, the recitals, the concerts….but equally important are the talks around the dinner table, the late-night discussions when your teen wakes up and you can barely keep an eye open, a private concert in your living room, singing every song from “Wicked” in the car at the top of our lungs, wickedly wild sails on Lake Erie or a father/daughter sunrise sail…..