Happy summer.

Today’s the longest day of the year, the summer solstice. We’re about to hit the road. We kicked off the season a little early with an outdoor adventure and a mammoth rock concert too.

Vacations are supposed to begin this way. We’re driving today, headed for my in-laws’ annual family camping trip in Michigan tomorrow. It’s 9 a.m. I’m still in my pajamas and writing a blog post. The van is mostly packed except for food and our clothes. I am not sure when we’ll leave.

This is not the way we usually begin our vacations. One or more of us would be standing around looking at our watch, waiting for the others to get in the car/van/taxi at a pre-appointed hour. We’d be flinging random tote bags of stuff into the back of whatever vehicle, trying to remember what we’d forgotten. And I’d be fretting about traffic, arrival time or catching a flight.

Not today.

There is so much stress, so much anticipation, so much preparation for everything in life that we simply decided not to carry it forward into our vacation this time. We prepared gradually, laid out an easy travel plan, and we’ll get there when we get there.

Today’s road trip is the formal kick-off of our summer, on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. But it’s already felt like summer around here for the past couple of days.

That summer feeling…

The first thing that makes it feel like summer is time. When you have a kid in grade school and are married to an educator, they’re around a lot more in summertime. Fewer of us have to scramble to get ready in the morning, which means I have less to do to get out the door.

Second, summer is for concerts. Last year, the three of us saw The Cure before departing directly for the camping trip. Last night’s show was U2 at FedEx field in Landover, grownups only, easily the greatest concert I’ve ever seen.

At the last minute, a saintly family of friends of ours down the street saved us from a no-show babysitter so we could go. This was our third time seeing U2 and easily the best. It was a stripped-down set with amazing visuals. The 30-year-old The Joshua Tree in its entirety sounded as well-tuned and relevant as ever. Four Irish guys who are well into middle age delivered quite a thrill!

Third, summer is for outdoor things. Last weekend, we visited Great Country Farms in Virginia for Father’s Day. Lindy’s comment was that if more farms were like this farm, agriculture wouldn’t be in decline in the United States. They’ve turned a large piece of land into a family attraction. There’s a giant playground, a picnic area and a gift shop. We played, ate and took a wagon ride out to the orchard. And the three of us picked about four pounds of cherries!

The place drew families from all over the world that day, families like ours eager for a little fresh air and exercise, and time outside the city or the suburbs. The entrepreneur in me has to admire the business model too: you charge admission, your customers do all the work picking the fruit, and they pay you about the same per pound as they would in the grocery store. But this trip wasn’t at all about the cheapest and fastest way to buy cherries, and we’ve really been enjoying eating them all week.

So what else has been happening in the last few weeks?

I continue to work on finding the right rhythm, the right balance of busy and challenged versus the needed white space in my brain. I installed the Moment app on my phone and have watched its warning that I’ve already unlocked the screen 50 times in a day (!) get later and later in the day when I’m paying attention. I read the excellent Simplicity Parenting and liked it so much that I bought a copy, the first book I’ve purchased and kept since starting my battle with the bookshelf. It sparked an energetic conversation at home about how many after-school activities XY should pursue as a third-grader, and we’re making some changes in the fall.

An unexpected case of shingles (is there ever an expected case of shingles?) knocked me down for a bit, but I probably needed a little downtime and recovered with no trouble. I wrapped up Leadership Montgomery and my service as head of the PTA but didn’t get into a graduate certificate program I was hoping to do in the fall. Will I re-apply, find something different to do or do nothing at all? Not sure yet. I’ll figure it out after vacation.

Roxanne has already been on a couple of trips without us this year. Renters have taken her to Prince Edward Island and Maine, and to the Pittsburgh area, and a good time was had by all. We’re off to the road and will report back.

In the meantime, here are a few things that caught my attention of late…

Also published on Medium.

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