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Summer Ratatouille: Savoring the Season

As I sit in the Labor Day beach traffic anxiously waiting to arrive at my sandy destination as a final attempt to catch that last wave of summer fun, I reflect on this summer’s adventures. Family bbq’s, beach vacations, crab feasts, long bike rides, hiking with my fur-family, leisurely weekends laying on the hammock and engulfing light reading, and the succulence of my summer garden. This year my garden was filled with the expansive array of colors and textures of tomatoes, carrots, beets, zucchini, squash, green beans, peppers, peas and strawberries. Little compares to sinking your teeth into a freshly plucked tomato straight from the vine, or the smell of aromatic herbs of oregano, thyme, basil and rosemary as they rise from the wet, warm earth during a summer shower. As the season comes to an end, the vines begin to wither and summer quickly becomes a memory fading green to yellow to brown in the autumn breeze. The sunflowers once bursting yellow and bobbing in the breeze now brown and wilted bow gently following a stellar performance as the summer curtain closes. I am not ready to release the sweet surrender of summer and I decide that when I return home, I will take the remnants of summer and create a ratatouille filled with the harvest that remains so that I might savor the season for a bit longer.

Savoring and Connectedness

According to Webster’s dictionary, to savor is to “taste or smell with pleasure; to delight in; to relish; to like; to favor”. Princeton’s Wordnet invites that one “taste appreciatively” when savoring. Therefore, savoring appears to require active engagement in the relationship between a person and her object of appreciation. Thus, savoring is about connecting fully. Jon Kabat-Zinn, in his book titled Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness, wrote “at its core, mindfulness is about relationality.” It is about connecting with the experience at hand be it a conversation with a friend, sharing a meal with family, or appreciating the end of a beautiful summer. Further, it is in this connectedness that we experience the moment long after it has faded away.

Ways to Savor the Season

1. Travel Journals and Scrapbooks

I like to capture the moment by providing mini-narratives of my excursion. A picture or postcard further allows the visual context of the story. For example, during a trip to Scotland, I narrated our bus ride to the countryside of Dumgoyne which boasts the delightful Glengoyne distillery and where I first acquired my taste for single malt scotch. I embellished this narrative with pictures and labels from the samplings.

2. Long walks experiencing the seasonal changes.

While I am reluctant to releasing summer, I thoroughly enjoy early morning walks when the Sun is still pondering her arrival under the blanket of dawn.With the exception of the birds and crickets, the Earth is still. The musty smell of dew on the fading lawns permeates the mist of the pretense to summer’s humidity.But there is a change.A cool breeze gently rustles the trees, leaves withered and gold, giving pause in anticipation of autumn.

3. Keepsakes

What a wonderful way to relish the beauty of summer by creating keepsakes. Collected sea glass and sea shells, (treasures from the ocean) make a nice display. Drying herbs in the freezer allows them to be used in stews and soups throughout the long winter. Drying flowers from the garden and creating arrangements can be a wonderful way to stay connected to the bouquets of summer. Better yet, preserve those wonderful flavors by sealing in cans and storing for the season.

4. Share the memories

Have an end-of-the-summer party inviting friends to come with vacation pictures in hand.Over drinks and potluck meal, linger over stories of summer adventures.

5. Be in gratitude.

I am a groupie of gratitude.It is a practice that I enjoy each night as I climb into my comfy bed next to a man who tolerates my form of crazy, and two 65-lb.. fur-family members who greet me as if I were “all that” and a peanut-butter bone.I mentally list everything that I am truly grateful for in my life…in my work…in my family…in the season …and I savor each nugget as I fall blissfully asleep.

How do you savor the season?

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