“The wise will start each day with the thought, ‘Fortune gives us nothing which we can really own.’” — Seneca
The full moon and an amazing summer night sky filled with brilliant stars seemed to shine just for us this past weekend as we gathered for the incredible annual summer neighborhood party.
Mike and Mini Harpster have managed to throw the party of the year, and each summer it seems to out-do the year before, even though we all say that’s just not possible.
I watched Mike grow up, as he is my sister’s nephew, and we always knew he would find a way to make every day a party. As his neighbors, we are happy to be a part of it. There is nothing more fun than watching the yard fill with children, jumping, dancing to party music, playing in the pretty pond. As the night grew dark, the kids began twirling colorful glow sticks as they shouted happily to one another across the expansive lawn.
When it was time for the fireworks display to start, I put a blanket down for my kids and their friends on the far side of the pond. We had a front row seat to the most spectacular display I have ever seen.
As the night sky lit up with majestic blasts of brilliance, it was almost more fun to watch the faces of the people around me. To see the joyous look of extreme delight in the eyes and the smiles of the people I love the most is a gift beyond measure.
“Oh my gosh, I will never forget this night!” our dear friend Kristen shouted as the fireworks reached epic proportions right over our vantage point.
Even on a typical day, Kristen’s joyous spirit can be happily contagious. Being beside her on this particular night is a memory I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Every day, I realize how lucky I am to have been born on this particular place on the planet. We are farmers at heart, and landowners by hard work. Having the wide open spaces in which to live out our life happily is something that I never take for granted.
I realize the greatest memories I treasure over a lifetime would never have happened if we lived on a city street. I think back on some of my happiest summer memories, and every single one has someone’s farm as the backdrop.
July Fourth often meant a trip to Uncle Emery and Aunt Martha’s pretty lake, surrounded by cornfields, where we would swim with wild abandon, then enjoy a tasty picnic, with Aunt Martha’s delicious trademark cookies as our dessert.
We would chase lightning bugs until it was dark enough for the community fireworks display which seemed a hundred miles away. We were lucky enough to see the highest ones, then hear the boom a few seconds later.
By mid-summer, we had enjoyed home-made ice cream on several different steamy nights, made with creamy milk fresh from our own cows, after watching our dad and our uncles taking turns at the crank of that old ice cream churn.
I can still remember the scents of it all… the salty brine smell, the incredible aroma of freshly-made hot fudge, caramel, the fresh berries heaping from a bowl. It was always a thrill for us kids to get to taste the first spoonful of ice cream from the churn’s paddle.
When the heavenly treat was put in a bowl for each of us, I always enjoyed mine plain. My share of the toppers could go to someone else. The taste of freshly churned home-made vanilla ice cream needed, and wanted, nothing more.
I am grateful for the fortune of these memories, and those memories in the making. Surrounded by happiness and laughter and shouts of joy, I count my blessings and know that I am rich.