THE LONGEST DAY OF THE YEAR

I have been anticipating this day for half a year–exactly six months. Today, Father’s Day 2021, is the summer solstice. There is the longest amount of daylight today, and beginning tomorrow, the daylight will begin waning again. The earth is tilted on its axis, which means one hemisphere receives more sunlight and energy at different times of the year. I am in my element in full sun, full heat; long days.

How fitting that this day falls on the day we honor fathers, who, along with mothers, provide us with life, light and warmth from the day we were born.

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When I think of Father’s Day, most of my childhood memories of this day were created in the wheat field. It seems Dad was always harvesting on his day of honor, and we would celebrate him in his element; a farmer in his Kansas wheat field.

My son Jude with Dad in the combine

It didn’t seem fair that he didn’t get to take the day off, but he didn’t seem to mind. It’s what farmers do. When the wheat is ready, duty calls. The weather dictates their harvest schedule, and when the wheat ripens, the skies are clear and the wheat is dry, time is of the essence.

Dad taking a break for a harvest-field meal.

According to our farming brother, harvest will likely begin in three or four days, if the weather continues to cooperate. I will make my annual mecca to the farm, because a day in the wheat field, complete with sweat, dirt, wheat dust and full-on stink makes me feel whole again. Hopefully I can talk Suzanne into joining me; we have made the trip together in the past few years. Gail hasn’t been there in a few years; hopefully she can make the trip as well. It is the pinnacle of the year on the farm; we all grew up with our household economy revolving around this relatively short period of time each summer. We know how important it is, and there is no substitute for the energy and vibe of harvest.

Just like with Mother’s Day, it gets a little easier each year to celebrate this special day without Dad present. Today, I celebrated with my husband and his dad; Gail and Suzanne do not have their fathers-in-law to celebrate with. We have kept both Mom and Dad alive in our hearts, and this gets easier to do every day of the year.

Fathers, summer and harvest–so much to celebrate. Our wish is that you find as much joy in each of these as we do.

THE BEAUTY OF JUNE

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THE BEAUTY OF JUNE

“I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.”                L.M. Montgomery

Second only to July in my book, June is one of the most splendid months of the year.

My mind and heart hearken back to my childhood, where June meant the beginning of the three carefree months of no school, hot weather, picking cherries, swimming lessons, Father’s Day and the beginning of wheat harvest. The cherry-picking and swimming lessons weren’t always good memories then, but they are now. I love to swim, and I am so glad our parents took the time and effort to make sure we knew how. I was scared of the water when I first started, but not anymore.

I hated to pick cherries then, but I love it now. I remember Mom waking us up early to beat the heat with our cherry-picking. We climbed our two cherry trees with a small bucket, and didn’t get down until it was full. This was followed by an afternoon of pitting cherries at the kitchen sink. It was torture then; I love it now. My husband planted a cherry tree for me in our backyard several years ago, but the frost got the blooms this spring, so there will be no cherries this year.   I did just find a bag in the freezer from last year, so that will still make a good pie.

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LAST YEAR’S CHERRY HARVEST

Today, June 21st, 2020, is Father’s Day. My family gathered at our in-laws to celebrate the fathers in the family. Good food, drink and company were enjoyed by all, as we always do when we gather there. Father’s Day has become a sweet-bitter observation, instead of the mostly bitter day that I felt for the first handful of years after our dad was gone.

To anyone who has recently lost their father, who feels only the bitter, my heart breaks for you. But, I want to let you know that time heals, and in the coming years, Father’s Day will be sweet-bitter for you, too.

I promise.

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LAST YEAR’S WHEAT HARVEST

I remember celebrating most Father’s Days of my youth in the harvest fields. Dad and my brothers would be hard at work cutting and hauling wheat. This year, harvest has not yet started on our farm, nor is there much harvesting happening where I live, 80 miles south of there. The wheat harvest begins first in the south and moves north as the climate dictates.

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30 miles south of my home, a farmer is moving his combine to the field to cut. Note the red machine, vs. the green. My International-Harvester farm-girl heart will always favor the red ones.   I don’t mind getting stuck behind slow-moving farm machinery, because they feed me, too.

Today, however, the climate here is one of unrest, as we wait for severe thunderstorms to roll in, further delaying the onset of harvest.

Aside from the fly in the ointment that storms cause for harvest-hungry farmers, these storms are another thing I like about June.

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Garage sales and lemonade stands are another sure sign of summer.

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Last night was the summer solstice. The annual “longest day of the year.” The sun shone longer in the sky than any other day, and I always observe this peak day. The days will slowly, almost imperceptibly become shorter day by day until the winter solstice occurs on December 21st. I crave sunlight, and welcome each lengthening day until the summer solstice, and now, knowing that the days will get shorter, I will again welcome the longer days starting in December.

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We were at our brother’s house near our family farm for the last year’s winter solstice. Here, the sun is setting on the shortest day of the year.

July will arrive in nine days. So will our annual guests. I will eagerly welcome both, and we will celebrate the first week of July together.

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July, with it’s honor of being the hottest month of the year in Kansas, as well as a week with some of my favorite friends, Independence Day—my second favorite holiday, and perhaps a family vacation, is my favorite month of the year. My three favorite things about Kansas are July, June and August—in that order.

Because I was born in mid-April, I came into being in July. Perhaps this is why I love July so much. Independence Day, with its fireworks, food, family and freedom, should be savored year-round, keeping its spirit alive in our hearts all year, just as we should with Christmas.

Independence–to me, means letting go of those things that hold us back and limit our happiness. With or without fireworks, it means freedom. None of us who enjoy this liberty should ever take it for granted.

As I anticipate another Fourth of July, I am delighting in decorating my home in a patriotic theme. I started on Flag Day—another great thing about June that occurs on the 14th. Today—Father’s Day, I am holding the memory of our dad close to my heart. I am also celebrating the father who made me a mother, and doing all I can to savor the beauty in every day, no matter how many minutes of sunshine it offers me.

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Our dad enjoying a lunch break in the harvest field.

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Last night’s fiery sunset was a fitting exit for our brightest star, shining longer than any other day of the year.

Happy summer solstice, happy summer, happy Father’s Day, and Happy June to you.

It’s a beauty of a month.