I wrote this for our local papers and our work blog. Wanted to share it here, too…
I took some time to savor summer by taking a few photographs in Dixon Grove at Camp Timbercrest one evening when I arrived too early to pick up my daughter for her night off.
by Jennifer Schlick
It’s 2:00 a.m. I’m wide awake. I’m sitting on the couch next to an open window, the cool night air streaming in making me feel cold enough that under other circumstances would cause me to go to the closet for a sweater. I won’t put on a sweater, though. I will soak in the cold – absorb it into my skin – in the hope that it will sustain me twelve hours from now when the heat and humidity will make it hard for me to breathe, when the brief walk from my car to work causes sweat to roll down my back. This is summer. Not my favorite season.
Not my favorite season, and yet yesterday for breakfast my cereal was covered with fresh, locally grown blueberries. My dessert at lunch time was a juicy, sweet peach, no sugar needed. And supper included fresh, local corn on the cob and a thick slice of homegrown tomato seasoned with basil leaves picked fresh from my own garden. Summer has its benefits.
Some nights in summer I’m awake because the heat makes sleeping impossible. Such is not the case tonight – my thermometer reads a delightful 66 degrees! (If only the neighbor realized this, he could shut off his air conditioner, open his window and listen to the crickets and katydids.) My sleeplessness tonight is all about the fact that I can’t turn my brain off. Ideas are bouncing around in my head, plans for fall and winter that we are making at Audubon even though summer is only half spent. The calendar pages are filling with offerings – something for everyone – classes to learn about nature, workshops to develop new skills, and opportunities to do the “green” thing. What’s the best way to market these great programs and events? How do we let people know what’s happening? What’s the best way to organize the website so people can easily find what interests them? Should we have online registration? Should we require payment in advance? What if there are still spaces after the registration deadline? How will we let people know they can still register?
“Stop!” I tell my brain. “Just stop.”
That stuff will all work itself out. Breathe. Just breathe. Embrace the moment. Take a deep breath. Someone is having a campfire and the smell of wood smoke is drifting in through the window. The newspaper delivery man has a companion; is he teaching someone new how to do his route? The dog lies limp and relaxed at my feet. I follow her example and close my eyes.
By the time I re-awake, the cardinal and the crow are having a conversation and it isn’t too early to put on the coffee. I think about the day ahead, the week ahead, but without the sense of panic. A film crew will be at Audubon today to capture the excitement of banding 4 baby Kestrels. A new week of day camp will begin with 36 children eager to explore the world they share with wildlife. Merle will be there, filling the office with her laughter as she pieces together our snippets to make the September-October newsletter. The buildings and grounds crew will work on the bridge replacement project. Another of our summer learning series programs will unfold as a group of 15 people gather to kayak the Conewango with a naturalist. Everything will happen as it is supposed to happen; things will fall into place.
A friend of mine posted as his Facebook status the following observation: “August? What happened to May?” I could totally relate; the days are zipping by and sometimes I forget to slow down to savor the present because I’m too busy planning the next thing. Today, I will savor the moment. I will forget everything while the kestrels are banded. I will take some time to photograph the volunteers at work, and maybe a few of the emerging late summer flowers while I’m at it. I will walk around the ponds in the late afternoon sun and listen to the green frogs and the bullfrogs. I will stop at the farm market and buy fresh produce. And somehow, in between all that, the other stuff will get done, too. The grant requirements will be fulfilled. The website will be updated. The newsletter will get polished and corrected. I will trust my very competent staff and volunteer crew to do the things on their plates without my intervention – brilliantly, as they always do. I will breathe deeply and attend to each moment as it happens and everything will get done.
Jennifer Schlick is the sometimes frantic program director at the very busy Audubon Center & Sanctuary, located at 1600 Riverside Road in the town of Kiantone, one quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, NY and Warren, PA. For information about the many events happening at Audubon this summer and throughout the year, visit jamestownaudubon.org or call 716-569-2345. She invites you to come on down and savor some summer at Audubon.