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Last Monday was the longest day of the year, meaning the summer solstice had arrived and the sun was as high in the sky as it could go. I spent Monday slaving behind my desk but I did my best the previous Saturday and Sunday to take advantage of just about every minute of daylight. Come nightfall Sunday, my bones ached but I felt a bit of satisfaction.
I climbed from bed just after 4 a.m. Saturday and watched the sun rise over New Boston. I downed a bowl of cereal and set out for work, giving Monday's paper a final glance and sending it to the press. From there it was to Lincoln City and Lincoln's Neighborhood Run. There were about 30 runners and walkers taking part. I snapped a few photos, drove around the park for a bit and then headed back to Perry County.
I had a 10 a.m. appointment with a sweet 93-year-old lady you'll be reading about soon. We chatted for about an hour and she showed me her garden. Quite a sight.
From there it was home to the never-ending construction project that has become the family chapel. With help from kin, we finished applying a concrete stucco to the exterior of the front. It looks good and the exterior work, minus a steeple, is nearly complete. Sidewalks ringing the building and linking chapel and house need to be poured. The steeple, being assembled in Jasper, is due soon.
Interior work is moving more slowly, but I'm hoping for an early-fall completion. Of course, there will always be things to do, just like any building project.
Sweaty and tired, I ventured home to New Boston for a shower and a brief siesta. From there I made my way toward my Anderson River farm and saw growing corn, hay ready for mowing and two buck deer with velvety antlers.
A red-tailed hawk resting on a round bale of hay gave me a hard stare as I drove toward home. It was an auspicious sign, I concluded.
Though it may sound a little pagan-like, I visited a favorite oak tree next to the river. It's as thick as me, tall and straight. I ponder sometimes how old the tree is and how many generations of farmers it's seen pass by. It will likely outlive me. Someone suggested a feature story on favorite trees, with readers sharing stories and photos of why the tree has meaning to them. I have a few favorites. If you have one of your own, consider sharing its story or your connections with it.
The big oak has a tulip-poplar neighbor, almost as large, growing nearby. I suspect the poplar is faster-growing and thus not as old as the white oak. It's good to have company, I suppose, even if you're a tree. There's plenty of room for both to grow for years and years to come.
As a daydreaming boy, I used to angle for catfish in the creek that passes by the trees and thought back to the times when I worked with my dad and brothers, planting the fields along the river.
From my revelries along the Anderson, I headed into work at Tell City to partially clear my desk. That goal is never fully reached but I made a dent in the pile. Intent not to spend any more time indoors, I pushed my bike out the back door and pedaled along Sunset Park, a hat offering protection from the sun's rays, but not slowing the sweat rolling down my head.
Sunday brought more sun and a visit with family and friends, errands and grocery shopping.
By Sunday dusk, which fell around 9 p.m., I was ready for sleep. I wished the weekend would have been not quite so hot, but I enjoyed the free time I gave myself to enjoy the longest days of the year. It's something I don't do enough. Lots of us don't.
The days will shorten for the next six months and the sun will begin to set a few moments earlier each evening. There's still plenty of summer to come and I'll enjoy my share, including a week of vacation in mid-July. I may even swipe a nephew's fishing pole and rediscover that spot along the Anderson where I used to tarry away the summer days 20-plus years ago.
Another solstice will come in six months, just before Christmas. By then, I'll be longing for warmer weather and will gladly trade winter's cold and darkness for a few hours of summer heat.
It's human nature, I suppose, to take free gifts such as sunshine, weekends and time, for granted. Like summer, however, time is limited. At least our share of it is. That means using it wisely.