I'm starting to see pumpkins and Fall decor in the stores, as well as pumpkin spiced foods, but it's just too damn hot still to enjoy these...yet. It's this weird in-between time that's made even harder by the fact that I work in an elementary school, so the last six weeks of summer were way too busy to try and enjoy or squeeze any last summer joys out of. I just want to get this damn hot season over and move on to the good stuff.
I'm going to propose bravely that summer is NOT the best season of the year. In fact, it's the worst. If you love summer, don't stop reading yet. Just hear me out. I was born in December, just a few days before Christmas. This was a tough time as a kid cause parties were impossible with everyone leaving for the holidays, but it always meant that I had a two week break from school. In Texas, December is always the best weather of the whole year too, so it became a time to look forward to for many reasons.
Well, I'm one of those weird people where this depressed state starts in May and ends by October. Really, that can be SAD too! I always thought there was something wrong with me. After all, I've been a teacher for over 20 years, and I don't work during the summer, so I should love it even more, right?! Well no, not for me.
The extreme heat makes me feel like I don't want to go outside at all, and when nature is your healing place, it can get pretty hairy when you don't visit it regularly. Maybe after dinner around 8:00, I can get out to enjoy the sunset hour, if I don't get eaten alive by the bugs who have the same idea. And then there are all my friends and acquaintances who start travelling and sharing their fantastic journeys on Social Media. Not to discredit their much needed breaks and vacations. I'm glad they can get out with their families and relax in places where they can actually wear a sweater in the summer. Unfortunately, I can't afford to travel in the summer (for various reasons I wont' get into here). During a good summer, my son and I will take a LONG road trip to try and find cooler temps, and those are fantastic, but still cost $1,000 for a couple weeks. I didn't even try this summer with the high gas prices.
I think I've finally made peace that this is just how my life works, so in May, I start steeling myself and creating routines that can help support me through these hellishly hot months.
This is something nature has taught me: don't fight the natural flow of things.
I can't force a flower to bloom anymore than I can force myself to enjoy summer. I can adapt and make the best of it though. My summer routines involve making sure I have some sort of structure to my days that usually involves a week of rest followed by a week or two of activity. I need long periods of rest, but I can't rest too long, otherwise I spiral down into unpleasant mental states. It sounds silly, but I've also found comfort in watching nature scenes on YouTube as well. It's like looking out a window at a scene that's more beautiful and peaceful than what I actually see out my window in the summer. I've also decided to keep filling the bird feeder, which I don't normally do in the summer since there is an abundance of food for the birds. But their presence soothes me as well.
OK, let's get back to this Long Summer season. If you're still reading, thanks for hanging in there with me as I wrap up some self-reflection. So this transitional time we're in is a bittersweet time. I read "Bittersweet" by Susan Cain this summer, and it gave me a new perspective, and pride really, around my love-hate relationship with summer. I can both hate it and love the down time. Both hate the down time and enjoy not working. It's OK to have conflicting feelings.
Starting in August, this Long Summer, many people feel both sadness and longing for the long, relaxing days of summer while also getting excited for the beauties of Fall. For me, I'm so excited to leave summer behind, but am sad because it's going to be awhile before Fall really arrives in South Texas.
Many people don't like in-between places. Places of waiting. This is when I need my Niksen Nature practice the most. Just BEing outside, watching for any signs of beauty that can get me through this time of languishing brings me peace. I always walk away from nature with a feeling of calm groundedness. Like I'm right where I'm supposed to be. Yes, watching the ecosystem "die off" for the year can be a bit depressing, but for me it's a hopeful time. I don't see it as dying off. I see it as shifting it's energy internally, where it can rest, heal, and get ready for new birth. God I need new birth. Every. Day.
Nature teaches us to embrace the bittersweet nature of life. Every death and setback leads to a new beginning. We can both grieve the losses behind us while remaining hopeful for the new seasons ahead of us.
Perhaps that's why I love this changing of seasons in particular. I finally have permission to slow down and reflect and connect with myself. Each time of transition allows us time and opportunities for this. During this long transition to Fall, I will try to appreciate the lessons that summer brought me, and wait patiently, watching, for that time and permission to rest.
Teacher, mother, lover of lounging in nature. This blog documents my experience with Niksening in nature and applying this type of minimalism to all aspects of my life, in order to simplify and amplify the best parts of life.
Interested in connecting more? Then please sign up for my newsletter, which I currently send out once or twice a month.
Niksen Nature is also on Medium! If you're interested in having curated articles like these in your inbox each week, check it out here.