This summer the pressure to have fun is intense. It took so long for school to get out, thanks to some pathetic excuses for snow days, that summer didn’t really get started until July, and now it’s already August. I hyperventilate every time I look at the calendar and see September approach with its onerous back-to-school sales.
I feel like one of those solar-powered garden lights they sell at Costco. I’m planted in the back yard, soaking up sunshine and charging my solar cells for darker days ahead.
Winter in the Pacific Northwest is OK, but March is horrible. Can we all agree that March is horrible?
The gloom, the gray, the rain, the ever-present damp. March tricks you into thinking sunny days are gone forever. March lies to you and says that life is one long marathon of loading and unloading the dishwasher, tossing loads of laundry into the dryer, cooking dinners your kids will say are gross, and being stuck in traffic on I-5 when you really have to pee.
But sunshine has chased the gloom away. August is root beer floats and melted ice cream, walking across the grass in your bare feet to pick raspberries, eating carrots and ranch dressing for dinner, and sleeping in on Saturday mornings until bird chirps wake you up.
August cheers for you when you wash the windows and keeps you company when you hang clothes out on the line. August is so good that it’s easy to feel happy. March is so bad that it’s nasty.
Summer is a math problem that I can’t solve. Not enough sunny days plus too many things to do equals intense pressure to choose. Should we drive down to Wild Waves? Should we pick strawberries in the valley? Should we find a place to camp in the Cascades? If the day isn’t packed with adventure, we’ve wasted sunshine. If the day is too busy, we’ve squandered the opportunity to relax.
I love the saying “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes,” but it’s not true. Sunshine makes a difference. When you feel warmth wash over you as you walk to the mailbox, even opening bills seems easier.
Every August I plant my yard with purpose, adding another bag or two of bulbs. Eleven years in the Pacific Northwest have taught me that the best way to battle gloom is with flower power. The crocuses will start in February with two weeks of purple. Next will come the daffodils, fighting March with shots of yellow. Allium, irises, tulips, and then it will be summer once more. Lilies will bloom on the Fourth of July.
But right now it’s August and the dahlias play. They drink up water from the garden hose the same way I soak up sunshine.
Enjoy life, pretty flowers. Build up your tubers as strong as they can be. These gorgeous days won’t last forever.
Jennifer Bardsley is author of the books “Genesis Girl” and “Damaged Goods.”
Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal.