Summer is a delicate balance

IMG_0239Remember when you were a little kid, when summer was unalloyed gold, just hours and days and weeks of playing and lazing about?

And then, eventually you had to get a summer job, but there was still plenty of time to ride bikes and do big splashy cannonballs into the water?

But then you grew up and bought a house, with a big yard. You became an adult. It seemed like such a good idea at the time . . .

At that point, summers changed irrevocably.

Now, summer is the best time, in this region where winters are long and fine days may be few, to do outside chores and upkeep.

We have been working like dogs!


We have been sanding the deck and the steps and all the other outside wood, sanding it and filling cracks and repainting. We need to seal the cedar siding on the house and paint the trim and deal with the gardens and so many other tasks that can really only be done in the summer months.

But summer is also the best time to enjoy our lovely lakeside location, in the beautiful region where we live.


It’s the prime time to bask in rare perfect days.

So, we work for the delicate balance that is summer.

We clean the house and plan meals and enjoy time with family and with friends but we balance that with time for just us two, alone, where we find ease and contentment.

We balance the time our cats spend outside, on the roof, in the gardens, lurking in the bushes, with our annual trips to the vet with each of them.

We turn our attention to the details of our surroundings, how the color of that purple iris is nothing like the color of this one.

And wonder whether frogs are like snowflakes, every one unique.


And the first buds of the first flowers, ever, on the climbing hydrangea.


We have flowers on the climbing hydrangea!  And they said it couldn’t be done . . .

But we also look to the wider view, the sky that seems bluer in the Adirondacks on Lake Champlain than anywhere else ever. And the dancing white sails of boats, finally set free from winter.

We balance trips to the local ice cream shop, for Outrageous Oatmeal Cookie and Chocolate Moosetrack ice cream, with brisk walks and weeding and more sanding and painting. It is, after all, bikini season (bwahahahaha!) and the best time to be outside, moving one’s muscles.

Summer is the only time, in my purveyor-of-vintage-linens persona, when I can take decent photos of larger vintage items, like blankets and big tablecloths, so I balance ironing and picture taking on sunny days with making new listings and other Etsyfying on days of gray.

Through it all, we kind of lose the idea of a lazy, hazy summer. We’re never bored.

Summer can be hard work. It can be physically exhausting. It can feel stressful, trying to fit everything in.

We balance all that with strict rules about quitting time. We meet at the fire pit, out by the lake, at 5. I might do some hand sewing but no other work is allowed.

We put our feet up. We chat. We plan the heavy lifting for the next day, we have a cocktail, we listen to the foolish kingfishers chatter, and watch the cats snack on the catnip plants.



And these really quiet moments are all the sweeter because our bodies are tired and hands are sore.

There will be time to be lazy and hazy during the winter . . .

It’s summer now.



66 thoughts on “Summer is a delicate balance

  1. Oh, what a lovely, lovely post about the joys and the hard work of summer. I liked this post so much that I read part of it to my husband. I salute you for quitting at five, going to the fire pit, and having a cocktail. We do a similar thing on our patio.

  2. Aaah. I felt like I was right there with you for a moment. Although, I have to tell you, I wasn’t sanding or painting but sitting by the lake next to the fire pit with a rather large cocktail in hand 😎

  3. This is summer, exactly! I am right with you! We did another afternoon in the basement yesterday getting ready to moved the two floor to ceiling shelves for canned goods into the other part of the basement. DH has made a design change that is for the best, but requires a lot more moving around. It will be much better in the end, though, so we carry on! It’s still much easier than putting on a roof!! We do some garden time almost every day after supper. Weeding is actually pretty relaxing when you are both out there enjoying the less intense sun. If we had anything like your sunsets on the lake, everything would have to come to a complete stop. Definitely. 😄
    Here’s to hard but enjoyable work!

  4. The joys of home ownership! I do hope you don’t have to do all that sanding and painting every year. And you’re wise to build in balance, to enjoy that paradise you work so hard at.

    • If anyone asked me how to get the maximum enjoyment from summer I would say, “RENT.” We don’t have to do those hard jobs every year but we let it go too long. Ugh.

  5. Love your descriptions… How funny to realise we’re the other way round. Summer is too hot and humid for that stuff. We’ve spent most of the warm winter afternoon putting up new hanging pots of plants, repositioning irrigation drippers, pruning out dead wood and so on, in the mild sunshine. We were driven inside by the dark and a pressing need for a cup of tea….

    • Funny–I know you’re having winter now but I sort of assumed your winter would be kind of like ours, with cold weather and plants dying off. Your winter sounds like our summer!

    • Did you have to weed as a kid? I don’t remember pulling a weed until I was 30 or so. Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end . . .

      • Oh, my yes, I did! We used to spend a lot of time with my grandmother, once I was twelve or so, and SHE had two summer cottages (they sound fancier than they were) and a huge, feed the whole town sized garden at each cottage. So, we would spend one week at one cottage, and that meant weeding for hours every morning, until it was too hot, then going swimming for the rest of the day. then, the next week, once one garden was in shape, go to the other place, where the garden was out of control, same process. It wasn’t too long before we realized that while we were busy getting one garden under control, the other one was going unattended.

        But the vegetables from those gardens really were more delicious than anything we ever had!

  6. Yes, yes, and yes (except for cleaning the house–which becomes woefully neglected in the summer). Your summer sounds so much like ours, but the Adirondack/lake version. We keep striving for just a tiny bit more hanging-about-doing-nothing time during the summer, but may never get there. Much better than working, though. And nothing feels sweeter than enjoying that evening drink with sore muscles and a weed-free garden. Cheers!

    • They *only* reason the house gets cleaned is when company comes. I am very okay with a messy house but I have my pride and don’t want my sister and friends to say, being my back, that my house is a sty! And you’re right–the ease we take at the end of the day is more fully appreciated because we earned it!

  7. This is a really evocative post, and I’m so glad you can look us in the eye and say ‘It’s Summer’. It’s a bit less certain here, but we too are having some lovely days. Let’s enjoy them while we can!

  8. Currently I am sitting in from of the heater, looking out at a cold, grey day. Your post took me right away, to lazy, long summer days, where the possibilities of the day are endless. My only question is….how on earth do you manage to get anything done with such beautiful views as a distraction?

    • And when I’m dealing with cold and grey, you’ll be posting photos of flowers! The view is always there and always interesting. And I do stop, often, and pay attention. When I hear a heron or kids screeching, riding in an inner tube behind a boat, I stop and watch. The best part is when there’s a fairly stiff breeze from the north and it’s cool and the sailboats are flying by.

  9. Well said,with delightful photos! The cat was a smile maker.😀I love these summer jobs, and the lake that we love to go to camp by always adds an incentive.

    • The “purpose” seems to be overriding the “peace” right now but maybe we’ll get all caught up and be able to spend August just staring into space!

  10. This is such a great, nostalgia inducing post. Took me back to my summer 5-and-dime store job, walking to the beach with friends, my children growing up…Nicely written, Kerry! BTW, I did like that teal-ish blue porch/stair paint. 😉

    • Thanks, Joanne! Summers are so nice for kids . . . And I liked that paint, too, but it didn’t hold up at all! This new stuff only comes in shades of brown but it’s supposed to be more resilient. We’ll see!

  11. Wonderful post! I’d like to bottle it, pop on a cork and open the bottle for a sniff as required. All the important things are here. Beautiful! 🙂

  12. Okay, now you’re showing off with all the balancing of work with outrageous fun adventures and then sitting in the evening with that view! All kidding aside, this is a post that makes the pulse of a retired person like me quicken and smile while reading the entire thing. I love it! You go girl and take your hubby with you while you maximize this summer season. 🙂 ❤️

    • I think you are very familiar with this balance of work and fun, Ms. Judy! I used to laugh at retired people who talked about how busy they were–and now I am one!

  13. I just looked up Adirondacks of Lake Champlain to see where you were/are…it’s not summer here in New Zealand, but one thing I’m fortunate about during any season is I don’t have to think about sanding the deck as I don’t own my own home…and my landlord doesn’t seem too bothered about some decorative things (yes he fixes the broke and he been ahead of new tenancy gov’t regulations) I wish though I was looking at the waters’ edge whatever the season, though…

    • I was *just* saying to my husband that renting sounds very good to me! The house next door to us is being rented (it’s for sale and while she’s waiting, she’s renting it out) and those renters come in and play in the water and bask in the sun . . . and I paint and weed.

      • don’t swap over…here in NZ you can’t alter anything – like in take out a door or a wall, you have no choice on wall/floor finishing (well other than putting up some pictures or getting carpet throw); if something doesn’t work and it’s life threatening, it will be fixed…but the overhanging trees onto my roof from a neighbour took 4 months to rectify as the neighbour wasn’t keen, until my prop/manager said if they fall on their power line – you will be liable!
        I could garden if I wanted to but first I would have to re-landscape the outdoors as the area is all uneven (possibly a dog with a tenant at some point)
        And then are your neighbours; I’m in a duplex but my neighbours wax and wane on being my good neighbours…

        yes things will be taken care of…dependent on your landlord, the people in U/2 have a dreadful landlord…he is even completely behind on the gov’t regulations and when it’s raining hard, it’s pouring out their spouting…

        my landlord is off shore and a it’s placed with a reputable property management company is pretty good…attends to things fast as possible, obviously has a good arrangement with my landlord… but what has happened and I think it’s a “wage issue” I’m onto #6 property manager in less than 3 years…

        I lost my footing with house ownership when I split with my husband…and with numerous debts my meagre settlement wasn’t enough for even a deposit…

  14. we need a little work to appreciate the relaxing fun bits. As always the pictures are wonderful, kitty looks like she is in paradise. Enjoy, winter will be there soon enough.

  15. Yes, Kerry! Every frog is unique too. Isn’t that impressive! Your summer sounds a lot like mine. More work than I can handle. I have to take breaks all day long. Work a little, sit a little. Evenings are usually for catching up here. I’m not a fan of summer as there is always so much more work to do. And it’s so warm. Your photos made me feel very rested though. Love the color of paint you are using and enthralled with the catnip cages. I’ve never seen such a thing. Smart though. 🙂 I’ve had ever manner of iris popping up in my yard lately too. Love your purple one. Glad you have a set quitting time though. Good idea.

    • Yes, you’re working very hard this summer, too! I’m almost (not quite) looking forward to winter . . . but there’s a lot to get accomplished before then. The catnip cages are our solution to the cats ripping the plants out by the roots! they can nibble on the parts that grow outside the cage, without ruing the whole plant. It works!

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