Since my daughter’s school ended, we have been in full summer mode. I open my eyes each morning to bright sunshine pouring through my window. When I look outside, my street is lush and colorful, full of flowers and plastic toys scattered in my neighbors’ yards. In the afternoons, the sky has been such a bright blue that I fear if I blink, I will miss a moment of its beauty.
We are outside, what seems to be all day long. We walk everywhere: to the park, the drugstore, to the local grocer and to friends’ houses. In the early evenings, my daughter pedals her small pink bike around the block, while looking for her neighborhood friends outside. The air smells like barbeques and bug spray.
We go to the sprinkler parks, the pool, the beach. Wet towels pile up on the floor by the laundry machine. Already, my daughter and I are both a few shades darker than we should be by early summer. We douse ourselves in sunscreen and wear matching pink hats. Grains of sand crunch under my bare feet in the kitchen and I wonder, how did sand get into the kitchen?
Last week, we went berry picking with friends. The kids eagerly looked for ripe red strawberries and plump green snap peas. They filled their baskets to the brim. My daughter’s face and clothing was covered with the red juice of the berries after the first 20 minutes. I smiled at the thought of picking our own food, of my daughter kneeling down in the brown dirt to get the perfect strawberry.
It seems I get nothing done. My to-do list grows, but I do not want to give up afternoons to go to the grocery store when we could be laying together in the sand or running through a sprinkler. I rarely write. When I sit at my computer, I research swim lessons for 3-year-olds instead of editing the essay that I started two months ago. I am slow to pay bills and return phone calls.
The days are glorious, but they are long. My daughter protests bed each night by telling me that it cannot be bedtime yet since it is not dark. Instead of going upstairs, we go out to the garden to watch our herbs and vegetables bloom. The green grass feels plush on our feet. “Do you think the basil is getting taller?” I ask her. She crouches down in the dirt to examine the leaves. “It’s growing,” she exclaims with excitement. Our first tomatoes started growing a few days ago, so we watch, waiting for them to turn red.
When I finally get her showered at night, scrubbing off the sunscreen and sand and dirt, she snuggles against my chest on the glider. I am reluctant to put her into bed, even when it is late and I am overwhelmed by all of the things I should be doing: laundry, cooking, cleaning, writing.
“Let’s talk about our day,” I suggest. And we do, remembering the best moments, which reminds me that everything on my to-do-list can wait. I would rather hold her in my lap, with the memory of our glorious, sunshine soaked days fresh in our minds.