Summer: Stillness, Softness, Sanity

Jun 15, 2021
Photograph by Kristen Noel

Breaking from routine of the way things have always been done and consciously deciding to approach ‘summer’ business (and life) differently


Well, she certainly has arrived here in the Catskill Mountains (though technically not until 6/20…but you try to tell that to Mother Nature). She recently hit us with an early heatwave to get the party started.

Have you ever noticed how she just struts herself right in — sometimes, unannounced?! One day we’re dreaming of peeling off layers of winter clothes (although you know how I love winter) — and the next, we’re scrambling to find a pool or stream to dip into to cool off.

Regardless, you likely have your own associations and memories of hot summer days past — favorite foods, sights, smells, things to do, places to visit, people to do them with. But for me, it’s ramp up time — no lazy days of summer around here. As I feel her barreling around the corner my head starts a spinning.

It opens the floodgates of to-do lists of prep work and café activity…and honestly, worries like only a café Momma could have.

I could sense the rumble in my nervous system revving up, growing increasingly more anxious — as if I were crouching down on a racetrack in position for a 100-meter race awaiting the sound of the gunshot — go time! Expecting, rushing, pushing — a tired old routine.

Will the weather cooperate? Is the garden ready, did I bake enough desserts, order enough produce, purchase enough supplies, get enough sleep? Are we ready? Are we ever really ready for this life journey — is the question.

After hitting the ground running full-speed towards summer, I could see what was already happening…I was running out of steam before it even started because of how I was approaching it all. And it didn’t have to be this way (and certainly wasn’t sustainable). I caught myself and decided that I was doing ‘summer’ business differently this time around (and by extension, life too). Hint hint: this isn’t all about how I do summer business, this literally can be applied to any life situation you may find yourself in — especially those circumstances you think you can’t go about in a new way. It’s time to shake things up!

If we’ve learned anything this past year…we can do it all differently. We can discover new and creative ways to navigate life — and there is a beautiful freedom that comes with choice — and choosing how we want to experience it all.

Of course, I have to admit that before I just slipped into this new way of thinking…I first had to fall on my butt.

On a very busy morning, with a to-do list up the wazoo — I was debilitated by a headache that would not be ignored or shoved aside. Instead, it stopped me in my tracks. You know what they say, if you don’t choose a day to rest, your body will choose it for you!

But instead of getting angry with myself and my body and the timing — I took a new approach: surrender. Yes, I needed to get a produce order in, pick it up, prep in the kitchen, and bake before we opened our doors that day — but my body was telling me differently. I’d been down this path before and intuitively I knew where it was leading me if ignored…a full-blown migraine.

As I reached for my belongings to head out of the house to get to work, I tried to coax my body into cooperating — rubbing my temples, breathing deeply, trying to focus my vision. Suddenly instead, I decided to listen to the gentle voice within that was trying to soothe me. She was so kind and sweet…told me to take it slowly, to enjoy the morning, to breathe her in — to grab a coffee, sit on the front steps in silence and be with the stillness of the morning sunshine. Of course, she was right.

I poured myself a delicious cup of coffee, sauntered slowly out to my front bench and closed my eyes as I lifted my face to the sun. Every cell in my body decompressed in that moment. The world didn’t stop, the to-do list didn’t disappear, but the chaos did. And folks, it’s just that simple.

We can choose to charge through life, through the alerts from our bodies — or not.

The sweetness and the softness of that ‘stolen’ moment in the warmth of the morning light transformed everything. It was like a mini-vacation stepping out of the noise of my head. Within an hour my energy was renewed, my mind, body and spirit felt lifted — and my to-do list was there waiting for me and I was ready to tackle it with a smile on my face.

And you want to know the crazy thing? I didn’t have to hustle to catch up — it all just fell into place. I got it all done. I suspended time, stretched it and gave it to myself. I don’t know what took me so long to figure this out, but prior to this, I didn’t believe it was possible…at least not during summer. But I proved myself wrong…and I’m glad, especially because I have an entire summer before me.

You can call it a re-boot or a time out or whatever you need. Ask yourself what would feel good to you — what you could incorporate into your daily routine. And if your pesky self tries to talk back to you and say, that’s impossible, gently take its hand and show it differently. Embrace the sweetness of life, don’t allow it to slip through your fingers. Enjoy the ride dear ones.

Breath in life’s essence, turn your face towards the sun and allow yourself to be embraced by her warmth, walk barefoot in the grass, dip your toes in fresh stream water, ground, eat something that nourishes you, listen to the cicadas and bull frogs by night and the birds by day, gaze at the moon…and keep adding to this list. Aaaah, summer, I’m so glad to see you again old friend!

Lea Haas, Owner, The Garden Café Woodstock

“In early June the world of leaf and blade and flowers explode, and every sunset is different.”

~ John Steinbeck


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