Since we moved back to the mountains 11 years ago (!), it seems each summer has had its own character.
There was the First Summer Back in the Mountains (when Owen and I were still in Raleigh, technically). The Summer We Bought Our House and Found Out Barrett Was Coming. The Summer of Friday Family Fun Days. The Summer That Sucked (mostly because I wasn't bringing in any money and Paul was paying out-of-state graduate school tuition and it rained every day and I was stuck at home with small children). The Summer We Went to Deep Creek Every Weekend. The Summer of Crete. The Summer of Paul's PhD Graduation (and Party). The Summer of First Sleep-away Camp.
Lately I've been thinking of this year as The Strange Summer. Because it was a summer of no real (as in go-away-somewhere-for-a-week) vacation. A summer after a challenging work semester for me. A summer of working a lot for both of us. A summer of taking care of (various kinds of) business. A summer of Big Family Life Changes (more on that later).
As the start of school looms, I've been lamenting our strange summer. I've been sad that we seemingly didn't really get to *do* much over the past few months.
And then today, Paul walked into my office and presented me with a list he'd made--a list of all the things we did and all the things we accomplished since commencement in May (the official mark of the beginning of summer in academia).
The list was three pages long.
After I read it over and added a few things, we had 45 items on our summer list. Some were professional accomplishments (Paul had a couple of papers in conferences and won a small grant); some were personal (Barrett passed the swimming test for day camp and went off the diving board at the county pool); some were kind of small (Owen read the entire Harry Potter series twice plus the new Harry Potter play); and some were huge (we sold my mother's house and moved her in with us for a while).
Going through the list, I discovered this: our summer this year is like our life here has become--full, rich, and centered around what we value most: each other, our family, our community, education, growth, our work.
And that, I believe, is pretty sweet.