Welcome to summer. Late spring/early summer can be the sweetest time of year, especially if we get ourselves moving through our environment and do it mostly under our own power.

The year’s longest days invite us to go OUT and feel the natural world around us when it is at its intoxicating finest.

These last weeks, I’ve been blessed to taste the tantalizing experience of moving through it under my own power.

Saturday, I bicycled down along Rt. 1 to Glen Cove, where I lingered to take in a sailboat plying its way in Penobscot Bay. A few days earlier, I biked to the Offshore Restaurant for a diner breakfast with a table full of age-mate men friends. BTW, those two stops are right on Maine’s stretch of Rt. 1, the subject of a recent New York Times article that is worth the read. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/15/travel/maine-road-trip.html?smid=em-share

Exercise is fine, but the wiser among us know when to cheat
Yes, car rides have their advantages, like being able to fill the backseat with great vegetables at Beth’s–and to stay long enough to consume their specialty, a strawberry shortcake

Even a casual bike ride encourages me to push myself up hills then enjoy the rush of effortless flying downhill—all of it valuable physical exertion I might otherwise pass on. When I bike down ways that I more typically visit as a car driver, the time slows and my ability to see what’s around me increases. It’s my preferred way to visit and pay attention to most locales.

Walking, hiking, strolling around lets me do much the same at an even more measured pace. And it encourages conversation with passersby.

Kayaking gives me ever-changing views unavailable from roads or paths. And the pleasures of simply being on the water. Yesterday’s paddle wound me through countryside not much changed in appearance from what people would have seen from canoes hundreds of years ago. Moving along in a kayak also makes for a very different sensory experience than buzzing along in a car. Lake breezes, loud bull frogs, river banks profuse with the scents and colorful diversity of wildflowers and God knows what other vegetation I can’t name, the flutter of a red-winged blackbird, the paddle-stopping appearance of a loon.   

Two knees ago, much of these kinds of experience eluded me. Recovery and improvement from those surgeries felt long and slow. Looking back on these two years, I’m amazed that a long time after I’d thought I’d reached the fullness of improvement, I continued gaining even more function. It took patience along with the work.  

These are the promises of early summer too. Just when you think the year’s beauty has reached its apex and its harvest has peaked, we find the year even more lovely and bounteous.

Happy Summer Solstice to you all.

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Ned Bachus is the author of Open Admissions (Wild River Books, 2017) and of the TURNING POINTS blog on nedbachus.com and on his OPEN ADMISSIONS Facebook Page. City of Brotherly Love (Fleur-de-Lis Books), his book of stories, was awarded the 2013 IPPY Gold Medal for Literary Fiction.