Summer is my favourite season. So I’ll cling to it as long as I can (which means as long as the sunshine lasts) but in our household we are shifting into our fall schedule. Peter will be back to work fulltime next week and – the very biggest change – Pearl begins kindergarten soon. (Yes, she’s going full-time and in person. Yes, I have a lot of feelings about sending my firstborn off to school for the first time in the middle of a global pandemic. Yes, we have confidence in the local school and our district.) Whether I want it to or not, fall is coming.
But as I pondered this past summer and all that it’s been one word came to mind to describe it. Abundance. It seems like a strange word to describe a year when so much as not been available. When there has been so much we couldn’t do. But it also feels right to describe this time for our family. Summer 2020 wasn’t what we expected but it has been beautiful in so many ways. It has felt like there has been an abundance sprouting from the very world around us. Never before have the wildflowers grown like they did this year in the empty lot down the road. The blackberries growing in tangles appeared places we’d never seen them before. The plum tree in our backyard fruited for the first time in the five years since we bought our house. Between our own garden and the local farms, we’ve almost drowned in green produce.
We have enjoyed the place we live abundantly. In the eight years we’ve lived on the Sunshine Coast, I don’t think I’ve spent this much time at the beach. We’ve swum and kayaked and paddle boarded. We’ve harvested crab and shellfish and shared the bounty of others’ fishing trips. We’ve taken the time to watch kelp crab scuttle through shallow waters. We’ve examined jellyfish and sea stars up close and seals from a distance. We’ve heard the calls of ravens, eagles, herons, and so many other birds. I haven’t left the Coast since January and yet I haven’t felt trapped here. Two excursions to the north end of the Coast (Powell River and Texada Island) offered us adventure in places we’d never been before. We’ve hiked new trails and summited new (small) mountains.
We’ve made plenty of fun use of the wooden paddle board that Peter made and finished last fall:
And we’ve had an abundance of family time. While this hasn’t been without its challenges it is also undoubtedly a gift. This has been our first “teacher summer” – the first year in Peter’s career where he didn’t work another job during his time off from teaching. This was a decision we made at the end of last summer but it’s had a lovely outcome in this strange summer of 2020. Last summer, looking ahead to summer 2020, I wanted to be sure we spent lots of time together as a family before Pearl started school. Well, I got my wish! It has been an unexpected gift of 2020 to watch the way Pearl and Rose’s sister relationship has grown when they couldn’t see their friends. We have had the time as parents to spend with the girls individually and Peter and I have had time as a couple. In August we celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary and got away for two nights on our own. (Our first overnight together since before Rose was born!)
We’ve even been fortunate enough to have time with our extended families. While it might not have been to the extent another summer could have offered, the visits we did have were so fun and full of great times together and memories that I know our girls will hold on to.
There are things I miss. Of course there are. We have one other family who are great friends of ours with kids the same ages who we have been able to spend time with and made a habit of weekly dinners together but seeing friends has definitely been different this summer. I miss our weekly Bible study group. I miss running into other moms and kids at the playground. I miss gathering with groups of friends at the beach. I really, really miss meeting together with our church.
A year ago, none of us could have predicted what the summer of 2020 looked like. Even back in June it was hard to know what our summer would contain. As I look back on the abundance of this season and the memories we’ve made, I feel filled with thankfulness at the opportunities we’ve had, even in the midst of the chaos of the world. And while I enter this next season with some nervousness and plenty of unknowns, I am also looking forward to what it holds.