Summer’s last sigh

We went on a little walk this morning after breakfast on the edge of the Flathead River. It’s a place we walk every now and then. Not really a hike, though we do pick our way over rocks and across sand. It’s more of a place for a stroll, then for standing beside the river to reflect. To think about whatever issues are consuming one’s life right now, or to shove those issues into a compartment in the mind and simply be instead. I always try to think only the big thoughts beside that big river. To listen to the water tumbling over rocks and refuse to allow the petty thoughts do their own tumbling about.

River bendDidn’t succeed in thinking big thoughts today, though. Instead Big Country and I talked over what we are always talking over, our business. Turning over what we’re doing in our heads, trying to do better. Sometimes it all feels like we’re trying to squeeze water out of a stone, blood from a turnip. But we talk about it still, because it’s our livelihood and we’ve got to keep striving, trying, working and working and working to make our business succeed.

But walking by the river helps. It’s where I can let the stress that seems all-consuming lately fall off my shoulder for a few minutes. Where I can listen to the sound of the water on the rocks, watch the play of the sun on the ripples, notice that the tired green leaves on the aspens are fading golden. Autumn. It’s almost here. It’s the last day of August, hurray!

River skyTomorrow we’re headed up the North Fork for huckleberry turnovers and a hike by our most favorite lake, Bowman. I’m going to try again with thinking those big thoughts, which to me really just means opening my brain to all that is happening around me, mapping it with the flashing of my neurons. Listen to the water. Feel the wind. Watch my son marvel at all these new sights and experiences. Forget about the stress and longing and fear waiting for me at home.

BridgeI’m ready for August to be over. I’m ready for summer to end. It’s been a long summer, full of telling other people where the best hikes are instead of hiking them myself. It’s been a summer of hard, hard work. I am not writing this for sympathy. I am merely observing that I feel like those aspen leaves look: tired, faded. But on the other hand, perhaps I’m turning golden too. My favorite season of the year is just around the corner. I’ve got to believe that good things and easier times are coming with it.

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August

Oh, August. You are my least favorite month (though you do share that title with February). The only good thing that happens in August is my husband’s birthday, which is today, coincidentally. Happy birthday, lovely love!

But anyway, August. Hot, sweaty August. My garden looks droopy no matter how much water I put on it, and I feel the same way. August is the last real month of summer where I live, and it’s just a hot slog until September, which is glorious and definitely the best month of the year in Montana. Not only is it hot this month, but it’s so dry and the thunderstorms don’t drop any rain, just lightning, which triggers wild fires. And smoke. It actually hasn’t been a bad smoke year (yet) but it sure makes it hazy around here. The light even looks different as a filters through the smoke. Orange light. Which makes it feel hotter to me.

Cliffs

And it’s been a tough month so far, with working all the freakin’ time, trying not to freak out about our bottom line at work (a worry I think most small business owners carry with them like a badge most of the time), counting down the days until September, wondering what new adventure’s on the horizon (can you tell I feel like the days are just creeping by this time of year?).

So it was a big help to me today to read a blog post by one of my favorite bloggers… about living like you’re dying (which we all are).

In the post, by Jenna Woginrich of Cold Antler Farm (LOVE her blog), she notes: “To encourage someone along their path might be the most important thing we can do for each another. Everyday we are given thousands of chances to lighten someone else’s load, to create a smile where one didn’t exist a second ago. How could we choose anything else?”

This is something I need to work on… lightening someone else’s load instead of adding to it. I mean, I try to be nice to everyone I meet. But sometimes, at the end of the day when I’ve been working for 10 hours and I just want to go home and eat dinner, I get tired of being nice and I just try to get through… not worrying about how I act might negatively affect people. But isn’t it so much better to be a light in the world? And I especially need to work on this where my family is concerned. It’s so easy to snap at my spouse, so easy to get short with my son. Why? Because they love me and of course they’ll forgive me. But they are the people to whom I should be the most kind… they are the ones whose smiles matter most to me!

Jenna also writes about the “Doacracy” in this country… if you want something, you just have to DO it. Don’t ask for permission, ignore what people are saying behind your back. I have dreams I am working toward, but lately they’ve felt so very far away, so unattainable. Again, I think it’s because it’s August… the interminable month of hot (can you tell I’m a cold-weather person?), but I am trying to step forward with renewed vigor, with verve, to seize what no one is going to hand to me. I am the only one who can make those dreams happen.

“This is a short, painful, confusing and heartbreaking life where most of us only have a few decades to really live the way we want to. So get on that horse, call that realtor, or buy that plane ticket. Stop living like you aren’t dying. It’s going to kill you if you don’t,” Jenna ends her post. Wow. Does that speak to you or what? Get going with your life!

Does anyone else ever get the feeling like you’re doing some weird voodoo mind meld with the rest of the planet? Or at least that specific blogger who wrote just what you needed to read today?

Sometimes life must be about the little victories, like adding just the right amount of cream to one’s coffee. Little victories are especially important in August. But sometimes life needs to have big victories. New opportunities, new friendships, new perspectives. Bring on the big victories, September. I am SO ready.