Here’s the Thing: Summer daze

July is in full swing and there are no immediate signs of summer ending. It’s here. It’s ripe.

The summer body I was working towards during the winter months was appreciated when June finally rolled around. It’s now July and I’m quickly reminded that six months of gym work can basically disappear within a matter of minutes. Life is cruel. There’s no time to make a comeback, this is my new normal. No more enjoying a summer body, unless by summer body you mean the results of a diet living on hot dogs and s’mores, then I’m your girl.

In my defense, it’s not my fault. Even when you don’t want one, a hot dog cooking over a campfire (or grill) is yummy and takes control over the cognitive part of my brain. So as I consume it and realize it’s not a dynamic experience, I fill with shame and wonder what I’m doing with my life. It’s a whole thing, but anyways. I figured maybe my kids can add “hot dogs” to their summer memory bank. We need better memories.

This was the summer I didn’t sign up my kids for anything with real commitment. I wasn’t thinking about June or August, but the month of July. It’s when family and friends come from out of state to visit. It’s when fishing on the Kenai River ramps up and everyone’s on high alert for foot traffic. It’s when our small town feels a little smaller, while at the same time feels a little bigger. July goes from red, white, and blue to nature’s green, purple, and blue. Trees, fireweed, and all the fishing waters decorate July as the last party month before school starts.

Being a stay-at-home mom, it’s my job to keep the children busy. Being on a soccer field four days a week was a sure-fire way to get their energy out, but also got very boring. Even though we only have two kids, they still have that magical ability to make me feel like Miss Hannigan. My big concern was it would be choas, instead of balance. We need balance so I’m not swimming in my bathtub with fake pearls. We can find balance in other ways, right?

Our energy went into discovering new summer hobbies. My ten year old daughter discovered stand up paddle boarding and archery. A generous family member even donated a compound bow for her to sharpen her skills! My six year old son enjoys inner tubes and how liberal mommy is about the snacks (because she too loves a good snack). It’s his first year having a summer after being in school full time, so it’s dawning on him that this is when we party. The midnight sun shining late into the evening is still confusing, but he’s too busy playing with cousins to care.

I like walking on the beach. I know, I really live on the edge. You can’t walk on them during the winter, so it’s my happy place. I’ve found a couple “new to me” beaches so that’s been my discovery. Every beach, lake, river, and scenic location is so different and particular that they seem like people with their own traits and personalities. Alaska is temperamental, so you should always stay respectful and polite.

I feel like growing up here, it was always easy to personify nature. A creepy tree can manifest twenty arms and still appear perfectly ordinary. A giant rock standing strong against the current acts like the river’s bodyguard. Walking along a trail and hopping over thick, jagged roots transforms you into Indiana Jones. Our favorite spot has mud flats that invite you into its own personal spa accompanied by the soothing hum of a creek.

July is full of adventure. Adventure is not always found in a hike. Sometimes adventure is feeling enthusiastic. Sometimes it’s as simple as sitting in the present moment. You can watch eagles soar and feel excitement, while doing absolutely nothing. Adventure can be quiet and offers passion over pressure. Alaska invites you to show up and meets you where you are. In that way, there is a little something for everyone.

Here’s the thing: Whatever your July looks like, soak it in. Now is the time to experience Alaska as a reality or as a fantasy. The reality for Kenai in July is inhaling fishy air. The fantasy is making the best of it. I have no regrets fully appreciating our lavish summer. By walking to the beat of our own drum, we’ve gotten closer to family and friends, enjoyed lake life, and have successfully made memories. Create your own adventure. Discover a new summer hobby. Smell like a bonfire. (Don’t smell like a salmon.) Find passion. Eat one more hot dog. Party on, July.

Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reachedat columnkasi@gmail.com.

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