Heat and humidity have been the daily recipe for weather here in Maryland. We are going on week 5 of temperatures in the 90s. Yesterday morning the air was cooler, slightly crisp and I drank my coffee on my porch outside. Felt good.

We spent a few days in Iowa earlier in July. Drove for 16 hours with two kids and a puppy but we arrived safe and healthy. I love to watch the landscape change from MD to IA, from rolling and tree-filled to flat and farm-filled. Iowa is where my husband and I grew up, it is where my family lives. Iowa is full of smells and people and food which are home to me. Spending time with family was a blessing.

Our summer days have been filled with eating lots of ice cream, watering my potted flowers daily (sometimes twice), playing and training our new puppy, completing projects around the house, and watching lots of movies. Our daily and/or weekly hikes have taken a back seat due to the heat and humidity, too much for this lady. A few days ago we found a wonderful swimming hole at Patuxent River State Park. The kids had not been swimming yet so to see their HUGE smiles brought me a lot of joy. We went again yesterday.

Hard to believe but the days are getting shorter and we are well on our way to fall. Some of my flowers have begun their slow creep towards their end. Most of my hasta flowers have dried up but there are two out front which are just blooming.

I replaced some potted flowers on my porch with greenery – creeping jenny and sweet potato vine. They are quite happy in their new home. The flowers I replaced had not done well and I finally gave up. Such is the life of a gardener, you win some, you lose some.

In a few days it will be August. Usually the kids are excited to buy new school supplies and new shoes and clothes. With continued virtual school for the fall, their excitement has waned. We may need to create a new traditions around school instead of buying school supplies.

I will also be teaching virtually again this fall. As challenging as it will be to welcome a new class without actually meeting them, with this decision, a tremendous weight has been lifted off my shoulders. The worries of when will I get it or when will my kids bring it home has disappeared. Without a 40 minute one-way commute, I look forward to the extra time I will have and plan to spend it exercising and writing. Knowing we will all be home, schooling on our porch, and getting outdoors as much as possible, makes me BIG smile. I know there are so many for whom virtual school is not a blessing but a tremendous challenge. I count my blessings and wonder what we can do to help those in need. Educating young people is a community effort. A difficult endeavor when our communities are being pushed apart by covid.

The deer continue to visit us daily. The little ones are growing slowly, still bugging their mommas for milk, still jumping around and playing like little kids, still covered in beautiful white spots.

Mr. Blue, as I’ve named him, visits daily. He perches on the dead crab apple tree in our backyard, looking for insects from above, and then finding some, flits down to the ground to grab ’em and heads back to his perch. I watch him through my bathroom window while I brush my teeth, I watch him while I sip coffee on cooler mornings, I watch him throughout the day. Oh, Mr. Blue, we love you.

We are still wearing masks when we go out, still physically distancing ourselves, still not eating inside a restaurant, still sanitizing hands in the car after errands and washing once we get home, still vigilant about all of it. Still healthy. Prayers we remain so. And for all of you.

As I type this, a steady, solid rain falls. We haven’t had a decent rain in what feels like months. I am excited for my flowers outdoors, their growth after a good rain is measurable. My kids are excited to see how much the river rises and how much deeper their swimming hole will become. Our puppy is simply content to sit in her chair on the porch, to survey her backyard, to smell all the smells, and then to curl up for a good nap.

I think I’ll join her later today.