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Taking note: Looking forward

A technicolor sunset I watched from a small cabin along the Keweenaw Peninsula’s western Lake Superior shoreline last summer; the teal gown and prismatic star pendant I wore during my own high school graduation a decade ago; the euphoria of seeing the vibrant greenery and cool blue waters of the Upper Peninsula when I returned three Julys ago after a couple of years in the beautiful, yet dusty, Sonoran Desert.

These beautiful little memories of summers past keep on popping up these days, gently nudging me to plan for the season ahead, to get excited, to think about all of the possibilities.

The impending arrival of summer is always a bright beacon on the horizon for me, something that I start looking forward to as soon as the first snowflake hits the ground.

And like many people, I like to make plans and fantasize about all the fun I’ll have during the long, warm days that tend to bless the Upper Peninsula for a precious few months.

But this summer is a little different due to the uncertainty brought by the pandemic.

We don’t know exactly what it will hold, or if some of our favorite summer events and activities will still be safe or available.

And when we start losing things we look forward to all year, day-to-day life can start seeming a little amorphous, a little odd and worrisome.

Patterns, plans, hopes, dreams, and goals can propel us into the future. These things can keep us happy, moving, and motivated.

But we’ve lost many of the predictable patterns that we’ve created as a society with this pandemic.

And that’s hard for us.

As humans, we love to try to predict our individual futures based on past outcomes and patterns.

We like to follow known patterns that provide a rhythm to the seasons of our lives.

We like to think we know what to expect from our lives and our futures.

We like to think we can heal our pasts and cement our futures with constant thinking and planning.

But we forget that constantly thinking about things that worry us or bother us doesn’t always bring us a solution or any mental ease.

We forget to live in the present.

We forget there are forces greater than us.

These days, more than ever, we need to give ourselves permission to live in the present moment, remember our pasts kindly, and appreciate what we can plan for and count on in our futures.

This summer, we can still count on the early sunrises and late sunsets, the growth of our flowers and vegetables, the gradual warming of Lake Superior’s waters, the vibrant blues of water and sky, the vivid greens of the earth, the sweet kiss of the summer breezes.

These are still things we can still count on and look forward to, no matter what.

And there are so many things we can do to get a bit better at living in the present and enjoying what plans we can make.

We can make plans based around the seasons, the weather and the whims of our households.

We can schedule a rain-or-shine picnic day with members of our household, we can lay a blanket out in the yard if the weather cooperates on our chosen day, or layout our picnic spread indoors if not.

We can plan to take a walk or a drive and aim to count every boat, bird, tractor, horse, or any other item we want to seek.

We can schedule a party just for our own household, we can decorate our home with streamers or banners, put on our favorite outfits, fire up the grill or fill up the kiddie pool, and play songs that make us smile.

We can also take time to just enjoy the little gifts each summer brings.

The sweet taste of an heirloom cherry tomato.

The smell of rain-soaked grass and dirt.

The joy of watching sunflowers grow tremendously tall.

The soft embrace of a light sweater on a chilly day, or the welcome, yet odd, feeling of putting that long-unused swimsuit on for the first swim of the season.

The breathtaking but life-renewing cold of the summer’s first plunge into Lake Superior.

The little swirls that follow each stroke of a canoe paddle upon gentle waters.

There’s still so much we can enjoy this summer.

We can make plans that rely only on the weather and our own desires.

And without endless obligations and events each week of the season, we might find ourselves stopping to appreciate the very best parts.

We can make this a beautiful summer by focusing on what remains: the joy to be found in the world when we are truly present and the love we share with our friends and family.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cecilia Brown is city editor at The Mining Journal. She lives in Marquette and can be found hiking if the weather’s nice, or curled up with a book if not. Contact her at cbrown@miningjournal.net.

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