I climbed out of bed at eight this morning and headed straight for the kitchen. Four hours later, I had finally finished cleaning up after preparing several gallons of bottled lemonade, tea, and water; making two pounds of macaroni salad; two dozen deviled eggs; cutting up an enormous, juicy watermelon; assembling paper products, condiments, table coverings; and gathering an assortment of portable, outdoor games.
Three hours into the project, I remembered the hour I spent earlier this week making hamburger and sausage patties for our outing. And the thought occurred to me, Is all this effort worth it? Why don’t I just buy all this stuff? Yet the answer is simple: The monetary savings is great. The costs we save by being frugal on a regular basis allow us the means to do so many other things we want to do.
My husband has waited thirty-some years to own a boat, and last fall his dream came true with a new-to-us –end-of-season-Ebay-find. So far we’ve enjoyed a few summer jaunts with his new toy. And tomorrow we’re sharing the fun with his family and are having an outing at a state park about an hour from home.
We’ll tube and try out my son’s wake board. The one he purchased last summer—long before the boat would be a reality—because he and his cousin thought it was a bargain. We’ll eat and laugh and enjoy the summer fun. The trip will be a great escape for all before my father-in-law’s heart surgery this coming week. At the back end of all this summertime joy, and at the rear of my husband’s mind, will be his concern about his father’s health and recovery.
The excursion will also be an escape from the heat wave that has gripped the nation this past week. This morning, as I walked across my burnt lawn, the dried up blades crunched beneath my feet. The only patch of pale green that I can see rests beneath a quarter-century tree in our front yard. In the twenty-some years I have lived in this house, I do not recall a time when the lawns and sweeping fields were this parched.
It is hard to believe how dry we are after a winter and spring that included large amounts of snow and rain. As I walked across my yard I was thankful we are no worse off. I thought about all of the locations across the nation that have been under drought conditions for the past several years. Water supplies threatened. Thousands of acres scorched by raging wild fires. Thousands of humans at risk of overheating and dehydration. Heat index warnings announced daily, and in parts of our country that are rarely affected by these staggering numbers.
A few days ago, one scrolling headline talked about a man who opened a fire hydrant to allow local children a bit of respite from the oppressive heat. A photo showed several youth jumping elatedly in the spray. The man argued the justification of his decision, despite being against the law.
Another rolling headline depicted the horrific details of the murder of eight-year-old Lieby Kletzky. The article included the now iconic photo of the innocent young boy with dark hair, glasses, fair complexion, and a delicate nose.
Last night, just before going to bed, another headline led me to an article about a Memorial Fund established by Leiby’s parents. More than sixty-thousand dollars was raised in the first day, which their new organization will use to help youth and families in crisis and need.
I felt the warmth of more than a thousand people who have already contributed to this cause. And I believe, without doubt, that our country’s generosity—even in our own economic dark times—will raise funds that far exceed the family’s goal of one million dollars.
Such is life. Our spiritual seasons are apt to change as rapidly as the environment around us. And just as our physical hemispheres experience alternating weather patterns, so do we mortals. My current, glorious season of summer is another’s stark winter.
But one thing is for certain, no matter how dark or dreary life might seem, there is always light glistening in the periphery.