Learning to stop and breathe

There are a lot of simple pleasures to be missed when you’re trying to fit everything in to a tropical Newfoundland summer

We’re entering the last days of summer, if you can believe it. Beautiful summer, on our little tropical island of Newfoundland. We’ve entered August, with the Regatta just around the corner and the blueberries on their way. It’s these beautiful last days of summer that remind me to simply sit still, sit with my baby, and enjoy all the glory that summer brings us before it’s gone.

July has come and gone in a flash of chaos. With the brunt of hot, humid, sunshiny weather comes a desperate need to be sure that we’re enjoying it to the absolute fullest. This is Newfoundland, after all, where just as quickly as these sunny days appear, we could suddenly be hit with rain, drizzle, and fog. Every day of sun is a day to go to Middle Cove, Topsail Beach, Sunshine Park, Bowring Park, Lester’s Farm Market, Salmon Cove, the beach, the beach, and the beach again. Not a moment is to be missed in this beautiful Newfoundland summer.

And of course, by the time August hits, there are some moments of exhaustion.

Is it possible there can be too much of a good thing?

Not entirely. But perhaps the rush and the hurry, mixed with carpooling, summer camps, play dates, sleepovers, pool dates, means that we’re missing the simpler moments of summer, the simpler moments of just enjoying summer with our children.

Taking a minute to just stop, and relax, and listen to the season

These last few days have been a glorious blend of lounging and wandering with my toddler. After a chaotic July full of too much car time mixed with beach time mixed with packing picnics and lunches on the go, and always on the move, on the go, on the run, we have finally slowed down just in time for August. There are quick desserts of whipped coconut milk and strawberries fresh from the field. There are blissful moments of wandering trails and berry patches, where I sit for a few moments while my toddler stops to pick a daisy, or points at a patch of red currants, or excitedly forages for strawberries all by himself. There have been pond-side naps and pond swims. There has been an abandonment of house-cleaning, and laundry-folding, and dish-washing. There may indeed be mounds of clean, heaped-upon-heap laundry in every corner of our bedroom, waiting for days now to be folded. There are towels from pond swims hung on the clothesline, with the fresh air the only washing that they need. There is an avoidance of the grocery store unless absolutely necessary, an avoidance of spending time in the car unless there’s an emergency. There is only lazy, summer lounging.

Photo by Leisha Sagan.
“With all the exciting July activities we were trying to pack into summer, we also found ourselves missing many of these beautiful summer moments.” Photo by Leisha Sagan.

And thank goodness for it. My toddler, and my sanity, is thanking me for these loungy days of August. He leads me into the woods to his swing. He stops on a trail to point out an interesting rock. We are figuring out how to show him that bugs and insects and butterflies are all our friends, as he shudders with fear at every buzz or flutter. He is aimlessly wandering his lovely little diaper-less self into the greenhouses, happy to imitate his farming father by picking up hoses and carrying potted plants. He is squealing and pointing with excitement at the first blush of summer tomatoes, and picking basil for his happy mama with which to cover those tomatoes.

With all the exciting July activities that we were trying to pack into summer, we also found ourselves missing many of these beautiful summer moments. July was a heavy rush that passed us by with no time to look at the flowers (let alone smell them), or to notice that summer was even here and happening. For all the beach trips and packed picnics and car rides and rushing around, summer became a blur of a season that was happening around us.

Quality – not quantity – time with our children

There was a simple morning towards the end of July where we didn’t leave the house, we didn’t leave the farm, we simply chose to just be. Myself and my toddler, we had what came to be a beautiful date together. My sensitive boy helped to pick strawberries from the field. Together we made strawberry smoothies and kale salads. He picked nasturtiums for his mama and pointed out peas that were ripe. And then, even with the beautiful sunshine outside, we chose to just lie in bed together and read stories. This literary fellow piled stacks of books upon me, and I could see that just as I had been feeling rushed by all the activities, so had he. He was more than happy just to be with his mama, to show me his books, to show me the flowers, to be snuggled and to be loved.

Certainly, the activities can be wonderful, but perhaps there truly is too much of a good thing. There’s a lot to be said for laziness, for slowing down in this busy chaos of a world. My little one simply wanted to hang with his mama. He cares little about the activities of the day: the rush and the packing of perfect picnics or drives to the beach. He’s happy simply to wander. He wants to slow down, to really slow down and just smell the flowers, as cliché as that may sound.

Truly, we can learn so much from our children, if we simply learn to stop ourselves in this busy life and take a moment to just listen.

Editor’s note: If you would like to respond to this or any article on TheIndependent.ca, or if you would like to address an issue we haven’t yet covered, we welcome letters to the editor and consider each of them for publication in our Letters section. You can email yours to: justin at theindependent dot ca. Not all letters will be printed, but all will be read.

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