Tag Archives: summer

Chasing Fireflies: A Midsummer Blogging Update

“I assumed everyone had fireflies,” said my friend. We stood on her porch at dusk watching my son spin and dart around her yard, chasing the tiny, mid-air pulses of light. “But they don’t. People are surprised to see them here.”

tree canopy

tree canopy

Growing up in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, I assumed the same. Fireflies are a given of summer. Since we moved back from the Midwest last month, I realize everyone doesn’t have them. Not the way we do here.

We didn’t have fireflies like this during our 16 years away. Chicagoland drowns them out with stronger, artificial lights. I vaguely remember them flickering in our yard in St. Louis, but that was rare. And their floating courtship didn’t stand a chance against the winds of Wichita.

Here they flourish. Waves of them parade through the night in the deep woods near our little rental house. We walk the trails in daylight and find them dark and hiding in the cool of the forest.

The first week we arrived, we walked those trails like destitute people who’d happened upon a cathedral. The rich green of thick vegetation flooded us. We took shelter under the canopy of tall trees. We breathed it in. An enchanted forest, steps away from our front door.

The dog refused to come into the house that first week. She would go out, but she wouldn’t come back in. The disruption of movers followed by driving across the country with my husband only to be met with movers again didn’t sit well with her. She’s adjusting; I still carry her back into the house some days.

Corinth

Corinth

My son and I made the drive incrementally from Wichita to North Carolina alone. We stopped along the way in interesting, important places: Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Memphis, Corinth and Shiloh, Chattanooga. People have asked if I was scared driving all that way by myself with a child. No, I wasn’t scared. I was thankful I could do it.

Once we were moved in, my husband hit the ground running with his consulting work. He’s very busy, and we’re grateful.

My son and I are taking things slower, exploring our way through the summer and adjusting much like the dog. I’ve seen only a  fraction of the many people I want to see. Sixteen years is a long time to make up for being gone. Some things have changed. Others haven’t.

“Do you have a to-go cup I can pour this Coke into?” I asked the man at the counter of the barbecue restaurant. I love North Carolina barbecue. Eaten it twice already since we arrived. It’s comfort food to me. Makes everything better.

“No, we don’t have no to-go cups.” The whites of his eyes flashed up at me from his downturned, brown face.

“Oh,” I said. Just like the city. No margin for courtesies. Then I caught his smile.

“Here you go,” he said, handing me a cup, punctuated with a belly laugh.

“You have quite a poker face,” I said and laughed with him.

“I also work in drug and alcohol law enforcement,” he said. “I need a poker face.”

Later that day, my son and I took to the woods again, this time on our bikes.

forest path

forest path

We zipped through the forest in late afternoon, cutting the humidity like a boat cuts water. Rain from the night before had overflowed the creek banks and shifted the sandy trails. We ducked off the path to maneuver around fallen trees whose soggy roots had given way. Our wheels spewed flecks of gravel as they spun around.

Soaked with sweat and water, we reached the turn to go back to the house.

“Do we have to go in?” said my son.

“We can ride more tomorrow,” I said.

Today is only the beginning.

 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Eccesiastes 3:11 NLT

For King and Country, Middle of Your Heart.

What has your summer held for you?

Like fireflies in a city, my posts have been rare this summer. Thank you for your readership and your patience as my family makes this major relocation.

Martha Stewart, image credit David Shankbone

Martha Stewart, image credit David Shankbone

My work as a Project Underblog contributor continues. In June, Martha, May I? was published, and in July, A Clinique Conspiracy Theory was published. A third post is on tap for August. I invite you to click on the titles to read these stories. If you blog, consider stepping out and submitting a story to Project Underblog for publication. They are a supportive, safe community of writers~#smallandmighty!

I plan to attend the BlogHer conference in Chicago next week. It promises to be a fun time with my blogger sisters. If you’re there, please contact me @AimeeWhetstine on Twitter so we can connect IRL.

You may remember Listening to the Women of Monsanto was published this past May as a BlogHer Original Post. It was a well-read story for me. What’s next? That’s the question I’ll ponder at the conference and beyond. I must remind myself, as do we all, today is only the beginning.

photo credit: david_shankbone via photopin cc

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Water Park

Water park, great equalizer of humanity.

water park double tubes

tubes for two

Waves of humans stripped down to the skivvies we call bathing suits. Nothing and nowhere to hide.

The throbbing sun bakes this oasis, this jewel of blue on the drought-worn prairie. We flock to the relief of the pool. We gather at the watering hole: elephant, antelope, crocodile, hyena.

My child, energized by the water and the people, skips between activities. I follow as his guardian and his insurance that he won’t swim alone today.

We begin with the obstacle course. Training for American Ninja.

water park lily pads

lily pads

Children slip across floating lily pads. They scurry and swing along rope webs. They drop and dog paddle ferociously to the finish line.

I observe, taking note of my offspring’s competitive streak. Between his father and me, he didn’t stand a chance of missing that trait, poor thing.

Herds of middle schoolers run together in co-ed packs. High school girls saunter like giraffes in triads, while high school boys buzz in larger, amorphous groups, joking and oblivious to their surroundings.

Tattoos litter bodies. They punctuate skin and recoil like secret sin exposed in the sunlight.

water park my shadow

toes and shadow

A dragon crawls around a woman’s torso. A cross marks a man’s bicep. A clover nips a lady’s ankle. And on another man’s chest, the infant footprint of his son who now swims beside him, a baby no more.

The hip, young women have accentuated their navels with piercings. Glittery rhinestone stars. All I can think of is how this will look should these girls grow up to bear children. Their tummies bulging with pregnancy, I imagine the star navel rings popping like buttons on shirts. Timers on turkeys.

Soon my child is ready to move on. Bravely I stand, the only person older than 16 in line for the slide.

water park orange slide

orange anaconda

There are two water slides. The orange closed tunnel and the blue open air. Like closed and open MRI machines.

My child screams with delight as the giant, orange anaconda swallows him whole. Down into its narrow, black throat he disappears. I’m next in line.

I’m usually not claustrophobic, but the tunnel seems too long and too dark. I whiz around curves and pray for light. I wonder if this is what it feels like to die.

A burst of sun and water and the snake spits me out. Has my child survived?

He’s already back in line to slide again.

water park torrent

thrill of the day

We traverse the lazy river. We revisit the obstacle course, and I think it must be his favorite thing. Then we see it.

Children run to the foot of the great bucket. The alarm bell rings faster and faster as the bucket tips. A torrent of water splashes down on the crowd of shrieking kids. They disappear in the flood. They scatter as the water dissipates and drains away.

This. This is the thrill of the day.

I stand beside my child the next round. We watch the white water crash toward us. Drench us. Wash and cool us.

We are alive. And for a split second this summer, I am a child again.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. 1 John 3:1 NIV 1984

Joy by Newsboys.

What’s your favorite summer memory?

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