The Almost-Perfect Summer Day


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Kent Park lake around 5 p.m. as we strolled after kayaking. A perfect summer day.

We were watching a pair of grandkids last night, and since we had the time, took, them to church. So this morning began almost when morning was over, with me sleeping in until 10. (I had fallen uncomfortable asleep on a couch downstairs and paid for it with a stiff back, so it was glorious to have leeway to wake up late).

Then, some summer chores. The strangely cold and wet July ended with some warm, dry weeks, and I have not mowed for some time. It was time today.

After that, planting a tree I bought on a whim at a farmer’s market yesterday, then watering the gardens.

The new tree. A type of willow. Katy and Wyatt have a gnarly one in their yard. I am not sure this exactly the same kind, but it is similar.

The new tree. A type of willow. Katy and Wyatt have a gnarly one in their yard. I am not sure this exactly the same kind, but it is similar.

I don’t know if watering counts as a quiet, calming activity. I like the chance to stroll about and simply look at the gardens as I freshen them with moisture, but my garden hose is so kinky that there is also a fair amount of knocking about and cursing involved.

Still, I always enjoy planting a tree. It’s August and summer is almost spent and the business of the new school year is already beginning, but today it was time to pause and plant and then water.

Water after the tree is in the hole.

Water after the tree is in the hole.

My wife was more ambitious, she stained the back deck while I puttered about the gardens and yard.

And when we were both done and had talked with our oldest in England via Skype, it was kayak time.

I loaded our kayaks into our new van, and we headed south to Kent Park in Johnson County. The lake was a greenish shade of brown, but still it was fun to be on the water.

I looked and saw several turtles—most of them swimming, but one sunning on a partly submerged log.

Watering the thirsty gardens. Some newer trees and shrubs were definitely thirsty.

Watering the thirsty gardens. Some newer trees and shrubs were definitely thirsty.

We kayaked together, and then my wife read on the beach for 40 minutes while I took a solitary paddle about the lake. Both were nice, but I do prefer having a partner.

Then, we strolled around the lake, hopped in our van and stopped for ice cream on the way home.

After that, we cooked some sweet corn purchased yesterday, and had BLTs with it—a very summer meal.

After planting.

After planting.

It was almost the perfect summer day. Since a new 30-day challenge is underway, it lacked cold soda or cold beer, and the beer, in particular, would have given the day a few points.

And children. The day was lacking in kids. Well, after babysitting yesterday, perhaps we needed the break, and we could not have gotten so much done—garden watering and tree planting and deck staining and kayaking—if the younger set were around.

Still, summer should mean playing outside with kids—pushing a grandchild in a swing or tossing a ball.

Anyway, even if it wasn’t the perfect day, it was a darn good one. It was a reminder of how I used to spend my summers in pre-RAGBRAI riding days. I do enjoy biking and don’t regret taking up much of my time in summer with training—but I do miss just slowly moving through the gardens, or reading in the hammock. And this was the first kayaking trip of the year for me, and it’s freaking August.

Well, time flies. We were having fun. They day was fleeting, as good ones, too often, are.

When I carried kayaks to the front, I had to carry them past this garden, a narrow spot next to flowers buzzing with pollinators. The bees were well behaved, I am happy to report.

When I carried kayaks to the front, I had to carry them past this garden, a narrow spot next to flowers buzzing with pollinators. The bees were well behaved, I am happy to report.

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