The summer is just not going to be the same. I knew that on my logical side. But July Fourth hit me hard in the emotional gut so to speak. All of the summers of the past crowded in with memories of things we’d done before. Last year, my kids bought and set off fireworks for the first time because we were living it up across the country. Usually, we’ve returned from at least one trip by now and are packing for another. This time of year generally holds so many new adventures and experiences for us.

This year … doesn’t.

A few days ago, I sat outside on my patio with my depressing reflections, essentially trying to talk some sense into myself, when the proper attitude just hit my in the face. My son came out to water the flowers he planted over the last few months. He really enjoys watering them and checking on their progress as they grow.  He gives me little updates on individual blooms and plant types, especially the ones he grew from seeds. They started as little six-inch sprouts. Now they flow out of the box and add so much color to the front of our house. It occurred to me that those flowers represented a different side to our next few months. A positive and unique side.

Without thinking, we each wander out to the garden to check on its progress at some point during the morning. It’s amazingly peaceful and rewarding. The front of the house is so much more enjoyable with all of those varying colors and textures. We watched cucumber seeds become tiny sprouts, then full leafed plants, then flowers and fruit. We all know just how many strawberries are in process in the three large pots we have outside. We’ve all been excited to try lettuce—yes, that green stuff they usually avoid with a passion—because we saw it punch through the soil and develop into actual leaves that you can actually eat. None of this could happen if we spent the majority of our time away. Even if someone agreed to put in all the work to water and care for a circus of growing things while we were gone, the nuance of leaf growth would be lost on us if it came in two-week chunks.

We have an opportunity. This period is unique in its lack of outside demands. We can use whole blocks of time to have new experiences of a different kind, like watching a seed grow. We can learn new things about what’s already around us, like how to attract pollinators or when to prune flowers. Instead of dwelling on what we will miss, I am going to think about what we should do with this distinct season of our lives. How can we recreate the adventure and learning in a new setting? How can I use it to do what we never have had a chance to do?

Our “normal” summer involves intense activity over a week or two followed by intense inactivity while we recuperate. Home is where we do nothing, in preparation to do everything. This year, home is everything. It’s time I learn to appreciate the opportunity!