June 15, 2016 by Jean
I’m a person who thrives on routines and rituals. Perhaps there’s a hint of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in my personality; but when others feel like they’re in a rut, I’m just getting comfortable. In summer, my morning is organized around a set of routines and rituals that shape my day and define a mood.
The first ritual of my summer morning is my morning walk. I like to be up and out early, between 6 and 7, while the air is cool and the world is relatively quiet. I’m usually out of the house within 15 minutes of waking up, although on some mornings I will take time before I head out to put in a load of laundry or to turn on a hose in a flower bed in need of watering. Depending on the weather and the time I wake up, my walk can range in length from 2 to 4.5 miles and take as little as 30 minutes or more than an hour. However short or long, my morning walk is a time for reveling in the sounds, scents, and sights of a summer morning: listening to bird songs, enjoying the fragrance of clover and newly mown grass, noticing which wildflowers are blooming along the side of the road and which cultivated flowers are providing a display in neighbors’ gardens.
When I get in from my walk, I do stretching exercises, shower and dress. Then, while I’m booting up my computer and making my bed, I turn on the heat under the kettle to make a pot of tea. When the tea is ready, it’s time for my second morning ritual, and my favorite, the morning tour of the garden. I pour out my first mug of tea and head out to the garden, visiting each flower bed in turn. Early in the season (and especially on rainy days), the morning tour of the garden may take as little as 15 minutes. But as the season progresses, the weather gets finer, and more and more flowers are in bloom, the morning tour can stretch out to an hour or more. I always take the same route around the garden: I go out the back door and walk around the corner of the house to the front entrance, checking out the new entrance garden as I traverse the walkway to the patio and then walk along the Lavender Walk and the front of the house. (On sunny mornings, I often stop to sit a few minutes on the patio, appreciating the lush display of plants that weren’t there a year ago.) At the end of the walkway that runs along the front of the house, I turn to walk around the far end of the house, checking out the plants in the holding area as I go, and then enter the back garden by the deck. I walk the long walkway between the two big flower beds at the back of the house, taking a detour down the narrow stepping stone path that leads to the serenity garden and the raised bed that separates that area from the clothesline and driveway. Eventually, I follow the back garden walkway down a short flight of steps to the driveway and walk down the driveway to the plantings at the front of the property by the dirt road. On the way back up the driveway, I take time to look at the plants growing on the far side of the driveway at the edge of the woods. Finally, I head up the back steps and back into the house.
After the garden tour, it is time for my third summer morning ritual, breakfast. If you’ve been keeping track, you may have noticed that it has been several hours since I got up. While this sequence wouldn’t work for many people, I’m not hungry when I first wake up, so a mid-morning breakfast suits me well. I make my second pot of tea, prepare my summer breakfast of cereal, berries and yogurt, and take it outside to either the screened porch or the back deck (depending on weather and which garden area I’d rather gaze out at while I eat). With my feet propped up and a novel open in front of me, breakfast is a very leisurely meal, sometimes lasting until lunchtime.
These summer morning rituals help me to slow down, observe the myriad small miracles of the natural world, and savor the moment. Together, they help create that dreamy, relaxing feeling that I associate with summer.