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One of the greatest pleasures of summertime is the abundance of color on the table. Berries and melons and leafy greens are in season, making it more reasonable than ever to feast on whole foods with economy. Although all of our children help in the kitchen, Olive and Burke seem to come alive creatively there––chopping, stirring, tasting. Burke received several baking tools this spring for his birthday, and he’s planning to put them to use this summer, baking something new each week for us to try.

This week, in honor of inexpensive berries and a long holiday weekend, he made homemade pound cake with berries and cream. So many of you requested the recipe, I thought I’d quickly drop it here before the long weekend ends. We doubled the recipe to make two loaf pans. If you have leftovers, store it in the fridge in a sealed container and enjoy it for breakfast. Wink.


POUND CAKE with BERRIES and CREAM, adapted from The Hands-On Home

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp half & half (or heavy cream)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  1. Preheat oven to 300F degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, sift the flour and baking soda together.
  3. In a second bowl (we used our mixing stand), whip the butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue beating until the batter is fluffy again. Add one egg at a time until the texture is like frosting. At a low speed, mix in the yogurt, half&half, and extract.
  4. Gently mix in the flour.
  5. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and place on the center rack of the oven.
  6. Bake until it is golden brown and the knife comes out clean, about 90 minutes or longer, depending on elevation and oven. Let it cool for 20-30 minutes.
  7. Wash and slice berries. If they’re tart, sprinkle them with sugar. I prefer the tartness, especially with the sweet, rich cake.
  8. Whip the cream until peaks form. If you prefer sweet cream, add a Tablespoon or two of sugar, or even a little vanilla extract.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

I often receive messages this time of year asking about our routine during the summer. Primarily, do we continue homeschooling or not? How do we structure our days? Or do we at all? In the homeschooling home, where boundaries of time and space ebb and flow, it can be difficult to discern transitions. There are no closing bells or good-bye parties for summertime. There may be an end to a study or co-op or music lesson or team sport, but not always. For the most part, homeschooling is an extension of the home, cyclically beginning and ending, flexing in content and activity to the needs and curiosities of the people who inhabit it. So how does our home look in the summertime? Different every year.

For the first several years of homeschooling, my husband was an educator, so we dropped all formal, structured learning in these months for home projects and travel together as a family. The single thread through them all has been reading. We always read, regardless of location and activity and season. You will find books in our car, in our purses and travel bags, and in every room of our home, minus the bathroom (because gross––wink). In more recent summers, the pattern has continued with home projects and travel, with more added structure in our days again by the end of July or the start of August. I have found too much willy-nilly-ness in our days stirs the pot of bickering around here, and sometimes all the travel and lack of routine works against us.

This year feels very different. Three of our four children will be in orthodontic braces this summer (insert: empty wallet emoji), meaning we will be enjoying more time at home, with a few inexpensive tweaks and repairs to our home spaces. Minus a few weekend trips to friends and family, we have an open calendar at home, and even more surprisingly, it feels good. Really good. Empty space, whether in our physical spaces or in the more abstract ones of time can feel uncomfortable, like we’re missing something, or needing something to fill it. But space can be one of the greatest sources of creativity and freedom, too. I love for my children to feel a sense of boredom, to enjoy an idle moment and follow where it might lead them, to wrestle with the tension of doing and being, of receiving and creating. It feels like a mini-resistance in a world of constant entertainment.

For our home this summer, we will have a mixture of structure and unstructured time in our day. Like many homes, we plan to settle into the relaxed days of summer, taking a break from new lessons and longer academically-driven days. While I am planning to keep firm boundaries of time, the space within those abstract walls is wide and vacant for their own pleasure, an invitation to re-create and enjoy time.

I know all of our homes are unique, with various goals and needs, so I am sharing this from our own. Read through it with grace and measure, gleaning what might be of value to you, and skipping the rest. Keep in mind, our children are 9-14 in age, meaning the concepts might look very different in homes with younger children. Wherever you are, enjoy it! It will change.

Summer Intensive / This list will make some of you yawn or roll your eyes, but I developed this particular list of things, based on needs and desires I noticed in my children and the conversations within our home. This is the most structured part of our week, 2-3 hours / 4 days a week. It includes:

30 Minutes of Quiet in Scripture / We’re using the She/He/Kids Read Truth as a guide through 1 and 2 Corinthians this summer, reading basically a chapter or two a day. Although we’ve read the Bible aloud together over the years, I’m ready to begin encouraging my older ones in their own spiritual disciplines, namely how to read, learn, and listen on their own. I plan to write more on this in a separate post.

Spelling / I’ve noticed slippery spelling in each of my children during this last year of writing, and wanted to be intentional about practicing this skill.  I’m using All About Spelling and began all four of them at level one, listing words via the index, to target specific words and spelling rules they may need to revisit. I plan to work the older three through the words in all seven levels this summer and pause Olive wherever I notice she needs work along the way.

Latin / The boys have been studying Henle Latin I with their CC Challenge course during the year. We’re using Latin with Andy tutorials and exercises briefly each day to keep content fresh and fill in weaker spots, especially for Liam who will move to Latin II next year. Blythe is doing a little Latin memory work before she begins her first year of study this year, and Olive is working through All About Reading level 4 with me during this time to strengthen her reading skills.

Math Facts + Laws /  All of the kids have finished their math for the year, and instead of moving into new lessons or concepts, they’re practicing math facts for a bit each day. The older ones are also reviewing Algebraic and Geometric Laws to strengthen their speed and work during the year. This is only 15 minutes or so each day.

Fun Fridays / Since we aren’t traveling this summer, I’m trying to be more intentional about day-trips and excursions this summer. We are planning Summer Intensive Monday through Thursday and leaving Fridays strictly for fun experiences together (with friends when possible) and our family Shabbat dinner in the evening. The children and I created a list of fun things we’d like to do this summer, everything from our annual The Lord of the Rings film marathon to sleepovers with friends to swim days to s’mores and campfires to hiking. Some of the things on the list can be wiggled into our weekday afternoons, while others will be special for the three day weekend each week.

Free Time / Even having 2-3 hours of structured Summer Intensive leaves many unstructured hours in our summer days. I need personal time to be able to write and work, and the kids need time to feel that sense of boredom, of creation. In order to avoid the “can I watch a show?” or “Can I play on the ipad?” thirty-two times a day, I created a list of potential activities for them when they feel stuck. Some activities are intuitive for our kids, reading, drawing, crafting, and although those things are on the list, I wrote less intuitive things, too, for the other times when they need gentle nudges, such as: create a scavenger hunt, write a letter to a friend, build an obstacle course in the yard, make a fort, watch the clouds and name the shapes. For those of you with younger children, consider building craft boxes now that they can only access during certain parts of the day.

Entrepreneurship + Internships / This technically falls under the same part of day as free time, but it seemed worth noting separately. Liam and Burke began their own lawn business three summers ago. Last year, they brought on two more friends and their younger cousin as a bagger. Three days a week, they work this business together, and two afternoons a week Liam is interning with his father and uncle. Liam’s hours are the most full, but he is also entering his second year of high school, learning more about making the most of his hours in rest, work, and play, such an exciting time for him.

Screen Time / Yes, our kids have screen time in the summer, but it is limited to a strategic time in the week and more often reserved for two hours on the weekend.  Sometimes we opt to watch a movie on a weeknight, or I let the boys play video games during a sleepover, or I let the kids watch a movie on a rainy afternoon, but these are exceptions. Or at least I want them to be. iPad included. The iPad is used for facts practice with the app, Xtra Math, where they each race their own times, for tutorials, and for texting friends at certain times of the day. This practice isn’t perfect in our home, but managing screens––both the time and content––is something we feel very strongly about in our home. We work hard to set clear boundaries and have plenty of conversation with our children. Basically, I’ve made peace with being the “bad guy” when it comes to this topic, especially in light of what friends can and cannot do.

Summer Reading / Although reading is always apart of our routine. Summer reading is particularly rewarding because of all the programs available through the local library and bookstores. We’re all in, and the library is apart of our weekly routine. Liam has a list of 19 British Lit novels he’ll be reading next year, so most of his reading will begin there, currently Beowulf and The Screwtape Letters. Burke will mostly be reading short stories next year, so we’ve worked with him to create a list of books we think he’d enjoy (and that we’d enjoy talking about with him), beginning with My Antonia and Fahrenheit 451. Blythe is working on her list of novels for the fall, currently The Magician’s Nephew, as well as fun pieces of modern fiction. Do you know the 8-12 range of children’s literature is my absolute favorite? And Olive is steadily working through Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and shorter read-alouds to me to work on her comprehension and fluency.

The weekend is here, and I’m bring back an old series to welcome it. This particular weekend marks the bridge between Summer and Autumn for the Northern Hemisphere, a crossover to a new season, an invitation to change. While our garden is mostly cleared and waiting for fall plantings, my sister is still fortunately stocked with beautiful Purple Basil! So before it also withers, I wanted to share a favorite drink from Summer––a Cucumber Basil Margarita. Nothing says Texas Summer like a margarita, so it seemed fitting to consider this a farewell to the Summer garden and casual evenings outdoors.

What I love most about this drink is it’s flexibility. Want to skip the alcohol? Substitute mineral water or sparking water for the tequila and make it a spritzer. Short on Basil? Substitute an herb on hand, perhaps Lavender or Cilantro or Lemon Thyme. This drink is also very strong, so sip and enjoy slowly. It’s intended to mingle with the ice, making it perfect for warm weather, too. And naturally, it pairs best with a group of friends.  Happy weekend, friends!


CUCUMBER BASIL MARGARITA, makes one drink

.25 cup cucumber, peeled and chopped

5-6 basil leaves, washed

.5 – .75 oz. maple syrup, to preferred sweetness

1 lime, halved to press

3 oz. white tequila*

ice

tools needed / shaker, citrus press, muddler, knife, vegetable peeler, cutting board

DIRECTIONS

  1. Muddle cucumber and basil together in the shaker.
  2. Press the lime juice into the shaker.
  3. Add the maple syrup and tequila.
  4. Shake.
  5. Fill a glass with ice.
  6. Remove the lid of the shaker and pour the entire shaker over the ice.
  7. Garnish with a basil leaf and enjoy!

 


Springtime is my favorite time for outdoor meals and entertaining. The days are a bit longer, the evenings a bit warmer, and mealtime conversation tends to linger. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I’ve been thinking on ways to celebrate this beautiful and empowering journey, not just with my family, but also with the friends––the women who surround and support me in motherhood.

I have a kindred relationship with my mother, one that has greatly shaped and encouraged me, and if she lived closer, I would celebrate her in this spot, too, along with my sisters and long-time friends. Motherhood was never intended to be a solo role, and I am forever grateful to have a local tribe of women who support me with wisdom, encouragement, laughter, and practical help. It is cliché to say they make me a better mother, but they do.

In the Long-Legged House, Wendell Berry writes, “A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other’s lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.” This community doesn’t require any us to be the same, or even occupy the same roles or routines. Many of us are in different stages of life, with or without children. It doesn’t matter. They are a part of my tribe. And enjoying an elegant tapas style picnic on the lawn is one way I want to celebrate their shared place in my life.

But Spring and early Summer are a wonderful time for celebrations of any sort. Here, I wanted to create an elegant tapas-style picnic, relaxed a bit with playful colors and mismatched plates, candles, wildflowers, and blankets on the lawn. A thoughtfully planned evening, with a playful and casual vibe. I shared more tips and details for pulling together a similar meal last week over on Anthropologie’s blog

Our family has been studying the 19th century this year, and while we are only scratching the surface of events and topics, it has been incredible to read the various narratives of women before women had the right to property, work, or education. From Sacagawea to Queen Victoria to the numerous women in pioneering homesteads to slave narratives and abolitionists and women who bravely took up new roles in the Civil War, I have been moved to read so many stories of courage and compassion, of perseverance and fortitude with my children. As a parent, I hope these powerful words become descriptions of their lives one day, too.

Although books are an important way we build character in our home, it isn’t the only one. Many of the practical character lessons our children learn occur just outside our doors, where they play with friends and build forts and garden. When possible, these lessons extend when we travel and experience other parts of the world or plan outdoor excursions. Today, I am partnering with Keenshoes our family has loved for yearsto share their new Moxie line for girls, and also a few character lessons growing in our girls through outdoor play and exploration.  

There are accumulating piles of research on the benefits of outdoor living for our children’s health: Vitamin D, decreased stress and anxiety, calming for ADD/ADHD, physical exercise, and so on. Yet as a parent, I also notice the ways outdoor living and play teaches my girls something about courage and compassion, about perseverance and beauty. When they climb trees or hike long trails, when they experience new people or ideas from history, when they rove through rivers or gather wildflowers, they are developing a greater understanding and appreciation for the world around them.

Naturally, I do not know who exactly my girls will grow up to be, but I have glimpses now when I see them try something new or speak the truth clearly, when I watch them work hard at a task or serve someone when they think nobody’s watching. As Marmee noted to her girls in Little Women, “I so wish I could give my girls a more just world. But I know they will make it a better place.” Here are a few ways giving my girls plenty of time outside is equipping them to do just that.  

Perseverance / We love to hike, especially in the spring when our Southern air is still cool. There are times, our girls grow tired before we are done, especially our youngest. These experiences are opportunities of perseverance, of continuing despite the hardship, despite knowing how much longer until we are through. To lighten the experience, we might make a game, racing to certain points or playing “I spy.” I might hand them my phone to take pictures along the way. When they finish, we always high-five and celebrate!

Courage / There are plenty of opportunities for courage in the outdoors, whether in casual tree climbing, swimming, or in learning about wildlife. One summer we camped in the mountains in Colorado, and I remember the park ranger giving us instructions about bears. One of the girls looked at me with wide eyes and asked, “Did she say bears?” When we venture into new areas together and learn about the land and wildlife, sometimes it is scary. Sometimes unknowns are scary and unpredictable, a sign for us change course. Other times, they are an opportunity for courage.

Compassion / Spending time outdoors, even simply in our backyard or growing food in our garden, cultivates a love and appreciation for the natural world, and subsequently, a longing to preserve and protect it. When we are walking and find trash in the grass or bushes, we collect it. When we garden organically, we are learning about how to take care of the earth and our bodies. When we interact with homeless on the city street, we say hello and offer them something if we can. All of these seemingly small habits are growing a deeper awareness of the world and people around us, and how we participate in caring for them.

Gratitude / Even in the youngest years, children notice bugs and leaves adults might pass by. They listen to songbirds and the rustling leaves. They enjoy animals and wildlife and playgrounds and picnics. Playing outdoors has a way of cultivating gratitude, simply by its enjoyment. When we pray together, we often thank God for pieces of nature we’ve experienced that day.

Determination / There are moments my girls spot a specific tree or boulder and are determined to conquer it. Sometimes they slip and have to start over, but I love watching them beeline for something specific to work toward. I love it even more when they find a way to help one another, by coaching steps or lending a boost.


This post is sponsored by Keen, a business our family has loved for years. All thoughts and images are my own. Always, thank you for supporting the businesses that help keep our family and this space afloat. 

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There are a thousand thousand reasons to love this life, everyone one of them sufficient.

― Marilynne Robinson, Gilead


drawing and listening to an old Sheryl Crow CD

journaling

chopping peaches for dinner

learning to kayak

daydreaming

cleaning the kitchen together after dinner

snacking on an early summer nature walk

making salsa from our garden

sketching in the mountains

sifting through recipes in a library cookbook

sanding wood for home projects

saving seeds from our garden

playing with sparklers, talking about light in darkness

reading and listening to books

writing a play and creating characters for it

reading in a hammock


I realize most everyone in the northern hemisphere has begun their fall routine and been whisked into the hubbub of pumpkins and fall leaves and school supplies. With Liam turning 13 this month, our home and time turned largely to finishing home projects and preparing to celebrate this life-transition for him. As a result my homeschool posts have lagged a bit, although honestly I’m still piecing together what this upcoming year will look like for our family, even as we’ve already begun it. It’s comforting to remember my ducks don’t always need to be in a row to begin our school year, but I do intend to write about our goals and such very soon. For now, I need to pay tribute to our summer of learning, both formally and casually––and also resume sharing our monthly recap in images and books here.

As with many homes, our homeschool tends to take a laissez faire attitude in the summertime. Routines relax. Home projects and travel ensue. Late evenings feel inevitable. After the energy and work Springtime requires of us, it always feels welcome to shift a bit. Still our family lives together best with a little bit of structure in the summertime, a loose expectation for the day. This summer we focused on daily practice of math facts, spelling, and reading (for Olive), some of the weak spots that can easily be lost with too long of a break. The rest of the day was given to play, reading, exploring, and home projects. And probably too much to the latter part than any of us like. Below I’ve linked to the books we read, independently or together. It takes so much time to write reviews for each, so if you have any questions about any of them, let me know.

As for myself, Eligible was a fun, quick read, but if you adore the original Pride and Prejudice, you may be saddened by some of the short-comings of this modern re-telling. Although a witty premise, it sometimes seemed to try too hard. Gilead is soulful and rich. And A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is both beautifully crafted and heart-breaking, as anything written around late-1990s Chechnya might be.


BOOKS WE READ THIS SUMMER

Liam | Little Britches | The Phantom Tollbooth | Where the Red Ferm Grows | The Hiding Place | Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Fatih | Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine PactHarry Potter The Sorcer’s Stone | Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets | Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanWarriors: Rising Storm | Warriors: A Dangerous Path | Warriors: The Darkest Hour

Burke | Call It Courage | The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring | A History of the US: The New Nation | The Story of Napoleon | The Louisiana Purchase | Diary of an Early American Boy | The Life and Work of Robert Fulton | From Submarine to Steamboat | Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine PactHarry Potter The Sorcerer’s Stone  | Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets | Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban | Warriors: Rising Storm |  Warriors: A Dangerous Path | Warriors: The Darkest Hour

Blythe |  The Hobbit | Pollyanna | The Story of Napoleon | A History of the US: The New Nation | Diary of an Early American Boy | The Louisiana Purchase | The Life and Work of Robert Fulton | From Submarine to Steamboat | How to Train your Dragon | Survivors: The Empty City | I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916 | I Survived the Japanese Tsunami of 2011 |

Olive | Rapunzel |Hansel and GretelWilliam Carey: Bearer of Good News | Palace of Versailles | Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered the Egyptian Hieroglyphs | several Junie B Jones books | Frog and Toad | Eli Whitney and the Cotton Gin | Lewis and Clark: Explorers of the American West | Lewis and Clark: Into the Wilderness | The Life and Work of Robert Fulton | From Submarine to Steamboat

Myself | Gilead | The Way of the Happy Woman | Skin Cleanse | Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice | Carl Sandburg: Selected Poems | A Constellation of Vital Phenomena 

Read Aloud | North! or Be Eaten | Trial and Triumph | Of Courage Undaunted | Paddle to the Sea | The Wind and the Willows (our own copy was purchased in a used book shop, but I love Ingpen’s illustrations in this one)

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A small bundle of fresh flowers for the home can be water for the soul, especially in these late summer months when the temperatures soar and the fields lie crispy and parched. I tend to sprinkle small bundles or sprigs throughout the home, on tables, night stands, and bathroom counters, even in the boys’ room. Although I do this year round, it feels more satisfying somehow in August.

Georgia O’Keefe once said that “Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time,” but I imagine more often, one might appreciate fresh flowers long before pausing to study or paint one, possibly even without consciously knowing it. Perhaps we don’t quite understand why a certain spot in our home or in another’s feels peaceful or inviting, or why we feel happier doing the dishes or quietly taken care of as we flip off the bedside light. Perhaps those little blooms are hydrating us, even when we haven’t time to notice.

Fresh flowers do not need to be large or expensive to shift the countenance of a room. A humble market bundle will do the job beautifully, and economically I might add. I keep my weekly budget at $10-$15, bumping only on occasion for special dinners or guests or on a particularly crushing week. Most weeks, one of the children join me, snipping stems and filling pitchers with water. It gives them joy to create simple arrangements, and more indirectly, they experience how flowers might water or bring life to many things––a home, a soul, a friendship––in oppressively hot seasons. Welcome, August.

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I regularly have people ask me how I plan our family meals, and also how I include the kids in the kitchen. I’ve been working on a small upcoming project regarding this topic, which I’ll have more on soon, but for now, I thought I’d share a sample meal plan from our summer table, as it can be helpful for me to peek in on what others are doing when I’m in a rut. As for recipe books, I’ve been mostly using Clean Slate––which I love for the juice/smoothie recipes, educational front matter on clean eating, and detox plans for when for my system feels inflamed (often after summer vacations)––and It’s All Easy––because I am an unabashed GP fan and I love recipes that sound fancier than they are, such as cauliflower tabbouleh, zuni sheet pan chicken, and Bo Bun salad.

Between May and October, our family almost exclusively grills meat, saving the cool air and energy indoors. We still enjoy weekly pancakes on the griddle each Sunday morning and the occasional roasted vegetables with dinner, but more often we eat our veggies raw and varied in these hot months––chopped, spiraled, sliced, minced, or even whole. I find the varied presentation helps disguise their simple nature and also the feeling of redundancy, “carrots for snack again?” Slice or chop them differently, and you may never notice.

Summer produce is my favorite for three reasons: peaches, watermelon, and berries. These fruit naturally end up on our weekly menu in any manner until the season’s end. For simplicity right now, dinner is the only planned meal. Breakfast and lunch are an assortment each family member chooses from at will. We encourage taking only what you’ll finish, and always being considerate of others if you’re about to finish something off. I’m fairly certain years of making morning eggs has burned us out a bit, and no one seems to complain when they are gone for the week. Wink.  Dinner is specifically planned each night, and on the best nights, there’s leftovers to enjoy for lunch the next day. I sometimes shift evening meals around when unexpected things occur in a week (which they almost always do), so it’s nice to have a solid crockpot choice (shredded BBQ chicken for us this week) or an accessible main course for last minute meals. I often have frozen chicken breast or tilapia in the freezer for this reason. One easily grills and the other quickly thaws when I’m in a pinch. For those who are interested, here’s this week’s menu:

 

breakfast

eggs with mixed greens and berries

red or green juice

cereal/oatmeal with berries

fruit + yogurt

lunch

dinner leftovers

lunch meat or hard-boiled eggs

spinach salad with veggies

chips + fresh fruit

• dinner

 grilled pork tenderloin stuffed with fresh spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and mozzarella, served with roasted green beans and asparagus

grilled chicken breast, served with lemon and herb pasta with cherry tomatoes

street tacos, a weekly community meal with friends

shredded BBQ chicken sandwiches, served with jalapeño coleslaw and mixed salad greens

Bo Bun Vietnamese salad with grilled shrimp

grilled salmon, served with cauliflower tabbouleh

one family eat out night

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When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
   but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

Mary Oliver, When I Am Among the Trees

Summer is always hot and sticky in the South, and this one is proving the same. My bedroom windows face the rising sun, and on my favorite mornings I am in bed long enough to wake to it. Even then it is hot outside, but I try to make my way out of the door anyway while the light is still sleepy. We do not live among the mountains or near a cold river or the sea. But we have the morning and the evening and of course also the green trees. And that is enough to fill me with hints of gladness, and to teach me how to walk slowly and bow often, as Oliver writes. And so I take a brief walk twice a day, once to begin and the other to close it.

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Yesterday morning, while the boys finished their breakfasts and morning readings, the girls and I visited our local garden shop. We are planting new ivy for our backyard wall and also a late-season garden. Although it feels odd to be planting in the peak heat, sometimes sewing new life into the hardest circumstances sews life into the soul as well. So we walked about the shop’s property yesterday, noticing the sun-loving blooms and vines. We took refuge in the potting shed, grateful for the mid-morning shade. When we grew tired, we paused near the pond and enjoyed the sound of water running over the fountains. Beauty truly can be found in the smallest places.

As I consider the remaining summer days (and months!), I’m learning how to find joy in these types of simple moments and outings. As it turns, my children are learning the same. Of course, our favorite summer activities this time of year revolve around water, but without a backyard pool or pond or ocean, water activities need to be planned in advance for travel or with friends. The garden shop can be a place to play outdoors, to experience a variety of plant life at once, and to inspire a personal garden space. For me, it was a place to visit and be filled.


This post is in partnership with MUNY, a Brooklyn clothier creating handwoven, hand-printed clothing for women and children. Cloistered Away readers can save 25% off of anything in the 2016 line before July 15 using the code summer25. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep this space afloat.