Summer comes on fast around here. It isn’t measured by the end of school, though I am pretty sure school has ended. It’s in the yelling from the trampoline, and the massive continuous craft projects…and the heat.

The first thing is that I have to do without my chocolate. We keep a basket that the kids call “mommy chocolate,” because that’s what it is. But in June the heat comes on and that’s the end of that. But it’s not so bad, because the strawberries are on this week. And the black caps will be next.

There’s plenty of sweet in nature in the summer. Sadie had a salad the other day and said, “These leaves taste like candy.” I guess that’s what sweet lettuce tastes like when you’ve been chewing on leaves of plantain and red clover.

In June the days are years long. And I’m old enough to know it doesn’t last. We rush and slow down, grab and taste. In May I put in as many plants as I thought I would be able to keep alive. Now I have to pay attention to them all, which is about the nicest work anybody ever invented, if you like hanging out in gardens and letting kids run through the hose.

The yurt has never been very good at staying cool on summer afternoons. You can stay in and suffer or just go out adventuring. We have homemade sunscreen, and hats. And there’s a cold sink around the pond, with the trampoline and a little pool for splashing. Our mama duck is sitting on a nest and only comes out twice a day, quacking like a fire truck, to meet her mate and waddle to the pond.

To me it’s all incredibly luxurious. It’s comforts unheard of. It’s candy lettuce. But sometimes I do have a strange moment of remembering that this isn’t what everybody else in the world calls wealth.

It’s wealth for me because I’ve gathered it. Three years ago we had so much less shelter, and especially less garden. (Though our garden still is not so much as it might be.) I spent summer afternoons struggling to get my baby a nap and it was hard. I lived really in a tent in the woods instead of in a garden in the woods.

Now I look around and the progress we’ve made seems just amazing. We’ve been able to buy some things, tools and toys, that make things easier. And build so many more. The lower floor of the house is already the coolest place on the property and the insulation isn’t even in yet. It isn’t a town life, and it isn’t an easy life, but it’s our dream in progress, and it is riches to me.

I really do think a thoughtful, intentional life can address so many of the terrible problems that we have today. It is a way of doing your part to make the wrong things better. But for that to be true you have to know what you’re doing, and that isn’t just snapping your fingers. It takes a while.

So here we are, right in the middle of this messy life, that seems so right unless you look at it from the wrong angle and then you can’t justify it at all. It’s like all those proverbs of the Kingdom. I don’t know exactly what right is, but I will know it when I see it. I will know it when the lettuce tastes like candy.

We’re right in the messy middle, though, still. So much farther along than we were at first, squatting in the woods in our hard walled tent. But also so many things are not figured out. I started my pressure canning this week and then left the jars in the heat and all the seals popped. My big goats are not being nice to the little one. And the elk are headed for the garden’s unprotected side.

We’re still working as hard as we can to protect what we’ve made. But it is so much more a dance now, and less a war.

Thank God for hot summer days and kids getting big enough to really help, in between long sessions of playing “rooster and cockatrice” on the trampoline, or flying rubber band airplanes for hours and hours at a time.

Thank God for neighbors and friends who are real people, who inspire and impress.

And thank God for a nest of hatching eggs behind the chip pile. We don’t need that many ducks, but we so need the lesson in new life.

Wishing you all the sweet things of nature, and if nothing else is available, chocolate will do. May you feel black caps and honey and summer evenings and belonging.

Love from the yurt,

(can’t say that for too much longer!)

Esther and family.