Strawberries, sleeping bags, and white squirrels—summer is here.

As soon as the bell rang on the last day of school, we packed the Subaru to the absolute limits and headed down I-40 (quite possibly one of the most boring drives in the United States) to Brevard.  It was three days of good friends, cold rivers, and s’mores.

The White Squirrel Festival was pretty cool.  I had pictured an open field where people could spread out on their blankets with a beer and plenty of room to dance, but it was actually a street festival, and we didn’t hang out for as much of the music as I would have liked.  Rob and I aren’t huge street festival fans (though I tolerate it better than he does), but the Soapbox Derby was fun to watch and there were actual white squirrels, which the kids were diggin’. 

Jay, Crystal and I ran the road race that morning.  Jay was second in his age group, and Crystal ran a pretty big PR on a completely non-PR course for the 10K.  I ran the 5K and won 3rd in my age group, which was OK since the age groups were 10 years rather than 5, but I’m still working my way back into shape (to say the least) so the time was pretty embarrassing.  But, hey, it was a race.

The best part , though, was just being outside.  I had no computer, no phone, no TV, no list of stuff to do.  It was just us, hanging out with the kids, walking on trails, building campfires, talking with friends late into the night.  We found a bright orange salamander, ate blackberry ice cream, and the kids probably rode 100 miles on their bikes just along the roads through the campground.  There was no rush to do anything or be anywhere.  It was simple and easy.  Summer always feels that way to me—so much easier.

If I were a responsible blogger, I would have taken tons of photos and Instagrammed the heck out of them so that they were all artistic and groovy, but I am not a person who carries her camera with her at all times.  That’s probably a handicap in the blogging world, but most of the time I’m so caught up in the doing of whatever crazy wonderful thing we’re engaged in, I just don’t think about the camera.

But other times I do.

Like when we went strawberry picking.

I ended up with a few quarts of strawberry jam and several more bags of frozen berries, plus a super delicious (if slightly runny) pie.  A couple of hours into capping hundreds of tiny berries no bigger than my thumbnail, I did question my thought processes earlier in the day, but in the end, it was worth it just to say I’d done it.  I’m no Ree Drummond, but my kids think I have a true pioneer spirit.

And now we’re at the beach.  The week in between was crazy busy—June, after all, is jam packed with camping, the beach, Boy Scout Camp, Camp Cheerio, and Vacation Bible School.  I spent a lot of time doing laundry and packing for multiple back-to-back trips.  But now we’re here, and I’m sitting on the back porch listening to a light drizzle of rain on the rooftop.  Supper’s cooking on the stove.  I have a stack of half-read books by my bed.  All I need are flip-flops and sunscreen. 

And that’s the beauty of summer, isn’t it?  That laundry and meals take on a whole new meaning?  Just because it’s summer, there is no shortage of dirty clothes to wash, but now, we need so few of them to begin with, and we can wash them and hang them on the line to dry, and pull them off, all warm from the sun, and put them right back on again.  Just because it’s summer, there is no shortage of people to feed, but now, we can eat a peach or slice a watermelon on the back steps, the juice running down our hands and chin, and call it a meal.  Just because it’s summer, life becomes so much simpler.