Monday, September 28, 2015

Ordinary Graces: Summer is For

I changed over the kids closet last week, flipped the calendars to their Fall pages a few weeks ago, and have mostly stopped wearing flip flops and sandals. We're slowly dipping our toes into Autumn and one thing I do love about Mississippi is just how slow and gradual the transition is.

I haven't pulled out my boots and I haven't had any pumpkin spiced drinks (I really don't love those anyway and I don't get excited until the peppermint red cups come out). I'm sort of baffled by the people here, in the South, that do. I'm thinking "it's ninety two degrees...just indulge in another month of sno-cones and flats, Girl!". But you do you and embrace what thrills your heart. Dress and drink not for the season it feels like, but the season it is!

I can say truthfully that I'm not as sad to see this Summer go as I have been with the previous two. I was in a funk year before last when it ended and this previous year I honestly mourned it. Both of those previous Summers I considered some of the best days of my adult life. Two years ago, Summer just really slowed us down and, for the first time in a long while, our life didn't feel crowded and overwhelming to me. In a way, I think it was a foreshadowing of the things we'd learn in New York. Then last Summer, we were in Brooklyn, and it was absolutely my favorite time there. There was so much going on and it was just one of the most fun things I've ever experienced. I tried several times, but I never felt I could successfully articulate the sensations of it.

This Summer, as we've purged our possessions and been very protective of our calendars, I've simultaneously felt a lot of crowding in my mental and emotional space. I was completely and totally unprepared for how difficult readjusting to being home would be. I cried every single day for awhile. And Peyton's issues of uncertainty knocked my feet right out from under me. Especially in the beginning, I had a really hard time coping with it. It was a difficult Summer, in many ways.

That said, while I wouldn't count them among my best days and I wouldn't say it was an ideal season, it was joyful in many ways. I wrote here about trust and thankfulness, and I meant every word of it. There have been big things that I've been learning. But, I've also been learning about finding joy in tiny, ordinary things.

This post was really supposed to be about just that-- finding joy and ordinary grace in the little things these past few months. But I had to give the backstory (i.e. share reality).

I was thinking a lot about how I wanted to share those little things- what I would describe and try to convey. And then I realized that I could just share from my IG series- Summer is For.

Most all of these pictures have shown up on the blog before, but I wanted to share them as a collective and it actually seems like the perfect way to share the essence of our first Summer back in Mississippi. So often, these ordinary things were what got me through the long days when the sun refused to sink into the night.

Barbara Brown Taylor asks "What is saving your life right now?" In most every season as far back as I can remember, there has been something big and also a vast array of common graces. In some ways, these things saved my life this Summer.

Summer is for...

...grating Zote outside your back door

...watering your vegetable garden and your blueberry bushes in your pineapple romper (I'm fairly confident this is what Six is for, too) in your grandparents' backyard

...toenail polish. For whoever wants it. I had planned to take it off Graves before the pool and certainly before church. But I decided if I'm going to make this work and going to have any real sense of happiness here, I'm going to have to live like I did there. And I'm almost positive I wouldn't have taken it off in Brooklyn. Not because I thought people would think it was some grand statement on gender identity that they agreed with. Actually, precisely because I don't think most people would see it that way. I think most- strangers and our friends alike- would see a little boy who loves vivid colors, who adores his sister and shares everything with her, and who lives unaware of a world plagued by artificial gender expectations. And that's all. They wouldn't make assumptions about what it says about my opinions or values regarding anything else. And maybe that's the case here. I'm going to try to live fearlessly like I would there and when confronted by differences of opinion engage gracefully. But that's scary. 

...eating tomato sandwiches and corn in the cob at ten at night

...tomato tart on repeat. Minnie suggested I find it in one of my Junior League cookbooks and try it out. It's about as easy as scrambling an egg, it'a a store bought pie crust but it tastes so fresh, and it almost feels a little fancy. Peyton and the kids are obsessed with it too so it's a win by every imaginable standard. 


...veggie dinners.

...squitos that seem to agree with me about who the sweetest little boy in all of the South is

...not the faint of heart. Awhile back, a slug crawled on my foot when I went in the laundry room without turning on the light and today a wasp got in the house (honestly, the slug induced a lot more screeching and wailing). I got the wasp with the counter cleaner and Back to Mississippi hardback. The hardest part was distracting this overly brave fella who really wanted in on the action.

...sweating our tails off. Peyton had been working loooong days at this point and we still hadn't  figured out the car sitch. I told Annie we'd "have" to walk to the park if we went and she said "Of COURSE that's no big deal, Momma. We don't have a car to use but really there are two others reasons to walk: one- it's healthy for our legs and two- the park is so close to our house. She's right of course, but geez it was hot! Anything for that goofy, care-free grin, though!

...milking the jon jons for all they're worth. Anytime I let him choose his own outfit, he picks this whale number that belonged to his cousin. I'll probably call it quits after this Summer (or maybe we'll still do them for church from time to time at five, we'll see ) but I'm grateful Peyton has NEVER given me grief about what I put him in. And that he still looks like such a baby so I get away with a ton (people always guess he's two and AP's four and I'm sure it's partly this get up). And that he's never asked to stop wearing "baby clothes" (perks of homeschooling but it probably also has to do with a solid half of the priests/pastors at churches we've visited and attended telling him they'd like his outfit for themselves; gotta love a good-humored clergyman).

...bubbles, plastic pitchers, Ice Pops, chalk, and birdseed.

...short hair. Kitty cat dress and a fresh bob is my favorite

...homemade pimento cheese and groovy flower plates

...squinty, squeezed goggle faces; Mississippi days so insufferably hot the pool water feels warm; and the way the scorching sun wears you flat out even if you really didn't do much of anything while you were under it 

...sherbert-y Chucks (and organizing shoes)

...Mickey's chicken salad. So glad he figured out how much he loves the kitchen.


...blues and yellows. One of my favorite little side table setups yet. I'll be a little sad to see it go in a few weeks. It's hard to imagine little pumpkins there, but it won't be long. Time moves so fast and I can't believe we've been back exactly four months. I'm sure I'll say this for years, but Brooklyn seems like yesterday and another lifetime all at the same time.

I wrote that "few weeks" part several weeks ago and I've yet to get any little pumpkins out of storage. But it is about time, I'm well aware. As it draws it's last breaths, I'm thankful for this Summer and all it's small graces. 

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