Appreciating easy summer living

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pool float

The lyrics to the Ella Fitzgerald song, “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy….” always made me pause and wonder. 

As a kid, I mistakenly assumed this must have been written by someone who had never worked a farm. There is nothing easy about summertime, I surmised.

But, as I’ve grown older, the song speaks with new meaning, as we walk along each season. It has occurred to me exactly what picture this paints for most of us. 

In the dead of winter, there are many days I don’t feel like we are embracing life in the way we should — with gusto, appreciation, joy. 

Most cold, gray days when nightfall comes in mid-afternoon, I find myself feeling as though we are just existing.

Summertime, and everything is brighter, lighter, grander, and we feel more alive all the way to our bones. I love the vibrant greens of the grand old trees, the breeze which cools us, the flowers that perk up with a dose of rain, the plants that lift and bow to the turning of the sun. 

My grandchildren described fireworks to me, and their animation and joy jumped off their faces and into my heart.  

“How do they DO that up in the sky?” my 2-year-old granddaughter asked. “It’s boootiful!”

We watched the dance of the fireflies while waiting for the bigger July 4th show to begin right here in our neighborhood. Friends who have moved west from here tell me they miss the summer joy of lightning bugs, as well as country fireworks over corn and bean fields, and nothing quite compares to seeing them again after years away. It is all pure magic.

The freedom of summer in my childhood meant our home had few boundaries because we had the entirety of the great outdoors to claim as ours. 

We ran barefoot on summer-toughened feet, playing softball, freeze tag, hide and seek, with the older kids so good at this game they forced calls of “all-y, all-y in free!” 

We grew up a bit each summer while our hearts opened to new, freeing experiences. We slept outside on clear nights to watch for shooting stars, making wishes on each one. It was pure living. 

For the kids among us, Independence Day carried an entirely different meaning, and it applied to the entire summer season.

Today, after a swim, I plan to pick blueberries and grill a feast over charcoal. I know already the food will taste like a feast fit for a king as we sit in the shade of the cherry trees. We will toast some marshmallows while watching fireflies dance over our lawn, pastures and hayfield as the day winds down. We will still be outside long after the sun sets.

It is easy to appreciate being alive on such a great summertime day.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.

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