Summer: Time to stop and smell the roses


“Rich music breathes in summer’s every sound, and in her harmony of varied greens: woods, meadows, hedgerows, cornfields all around, much beauty intervenes, filling with harmony the ear and eye, while o’er the mingling scenes far spreads the laughing sky.”

– John Clare, (1793-1854)

Reaching summer’s middle goodness is sort of bittersweet, wouldn’t you agree? We have enjoyed the vast, open calendar – the relenting of so many demands reason enough to celebrate.

It is the time to celebrate the little miracles of the world around us. At our home, we have watched a nesting of bluebird eggs hatch, with five tiny hatchlings taking flight in late June.

Morning treat. On the hot and steamy morning of the fourth of July, I went out to take an early morning swim in our pool, and was rewarded with a performance of those new flyers.

I watched the papa bluebird giving flight instructions to the five rookie bluebirds – he would lead them from a large tree to the north of our pool to the large pines at the south of our lawn.

The slow, sometimes hovering movement of that beautiful male bluebird was incredible to watch as he waited for the little ones to follow his lead.

There were times he swooped low enough over the pool to practically let me count his tail feathers! It was an incredible morning, and one that I won’t forget.

Later that morning, as I was driving out the driveway, I counted five little bluebirds all lined up on the telephone wire leading from the road to our house. I had to wonder if they were being punished for not listening to papa closely enough, or if they were just enjoying a well-deserved rest.

Summer’s wonders are way too numerous to count, but it is wonderful to have a bit of time to enjoy them, to revel in them.

Stop for a second. The pace of our world today has become way too frantic, and I think we were given summer as a reminder to slow down whenever possible, to enjoy a fragrant rose bush, a blooming garden, a swaying wheat field. Way too many times, we simply don’t have the time to notice.

Summer is hard work on a farm, there is no doubt about that. I will never forget the first day back to school every year, listening to other kids talk about the fun they’d enjoyed over summer – even if it was just a week or two at a cabin somewhere – and how they hated to see summer end.

I remembered once feeling glad for school to start just to get a break from the work!

It seemed first crop hay was barely cooling in the mow when it was time for second cuttings, and always, always, the cows needed to be milked.

Summer in the old milking parlor was not fun – the intense heat and humidity, the flies, the flying tails that could slice sunburned skin worse than a whip. And at the end of the milking, more work was awaiting us, every single day.

A good book. Though we couldn’t travel, one great escape for farm kids everywhere has always been good reading, and I remember the thrill of a trip to the public library in the middle of summer. There was nothing like finding a shady spot between loads of hay to enjoy a chapter of a good book.

Henry Ward Beecher once wrote, “There is a temperate zone in the mind, between luxurious indolence and exacting work; and it is to this region, just between laziness and labor, that summer reading belongs.”

Take a break. Even if you are too busy to catch a lightning bug or two, I hope you can find time to watch a bird take flight, or put your feet up while you enjoy a good summer read.

Enjoy summer’s glorious middle – it is our treat in a ridiculously fast-paced world.


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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.