“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
― Henry James
As I sit to write, Mid-July, the sweet spot of summer, has arrived. As the thermometer soars the vegetables in the garden flourish, the roses climb, and the lilies in our gardens burst open in flames of color. While the humidity of summer is always difficult to tolerate, I try to dig deep and recall what February was like in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. That instantly takes the whine out of my voice and helps me welcome the heat.
For the better part of my life, I have been a night owl. That was until I met my husband and moved to his farm in the wilds of Skandia. It may be the fact that our two roosters Romeo and Odysseus like to spark up a spirited chorus under our bedroom window at 5:30 every morning (they call to each other over-and-over) or it may be that mornings in the UP are a sacred time. A time to stretch one’s thoughts and body and soak in the beauty around us.
For many years I started my mornings off with yoga. While the practice of yoga is great for our bodies, what it does for our mind is important as well. Yoga always allowed myself to be in my body, not in my mind. As an English teacher, this reminds me of poetry. Like poetry, yoga allows us to slow down and concentrate on the moment. It may be extremely difficult to shut our mind down and focus on our breathing and the stretch and sway of our bodies, but it is powerful when we attempt to do so. It helps profoundly to let the stress, anxiety, questions, and mile long to-do lists melt away (even if it is just for twenty minutes).
I believe it is important for us to listen to our bodies. I try (not always successfully) to listen to what my body NEEDS instead of the cravings that my head WANTS. I try to stick to the manta, “Quality, not quantity,” and I try to see food as fuel and nutrients.
Plain water is not a struggle for me (when I am mindful), and I normally drink multiple glasses a day, but I also know that our bodies get an abundance of water from fresh fruit and vegetables. So to help myself stay hydrated in this heat I am also consuming green smoothies and I have been eating a lot of cucumbers because they contain properties that help our bodies ease bloating.
In addition to fresh cucumbers from our garden I like to always keep fresh watermelon on hand because it is such a refreshing and sweet treat when it is stifling hot outside. In addition, watermelon is high in lycopene (carotenoid phytonutrient that’s especially important for our cardiovascular and bone health).
I normally do not purchase watermelon one at a time, I often buy several. The reason being that the humans on the Waldo homestead are not the only ones that love watermelon. In fact, few things in life bring me as much joy as the happy chirps, warbles, and clucks that our hens, roosters, turkeys, and ducks make when I bring them segments of juicy watermelon to feast on.
I have to admit that this Watermelon Splash recipe is merely a suggestion and I am not sure if it qualifies as a recipe, because it needs individual care and attention to make it your own. Therefore, I encourage you to experiment and find the flavor profile that suits your taste buds.
In its most simple form, it’s a slush. However, with the addition of spinach, kale, radish, turnip or other greens from your garden or the farmer’s market – you can turn it into a green smoothie. Or with a jigger of your favorite spirit – you can turn it into an adult beverage. Do whatever your body NEEDS to cool down from the heat and feel refreshed.
WATERMELON SPLASH COOLER
*2 cups of watermelon (frozen)
*Handful of ice cubes
*Juice and zest of one lime
*Sprig of fresh mint
Blend well, serve, and enjoy!
*Chia seeds (Omega-3 and antioxidants)
*Lemon juice and zest (if you prefer over lime)
*Greens (too many health benefits to name – add a handful or two)
*Frozen banana (if your body is craving something sweeter – a frozen banana adds sweetness and also makes the drink creamy)
I think it would be an understatement to say that the past spring and summer has been a challenge. Therefore, it is more important than ever that we make time to listen. While we need to listen to each other, we also must listen to the sky, the wind, the water.
Steep yourself in silence or the gentle rhythm of birdsong. Listen to what your body is telling you that it needs. Are you getting enough sleep? If you are feeling sluggish do you need to drink more water or get up and move and stretch? Do you think that adding more fresh fruit and vegetables into your meals and snacks might give you an energy boost? How about replacing that nightly indulgence of ice cream with a cold and creamy green smoothie? Stop and listen to your body. Enjoy each ray of sunshine because before we know it the sweet spot of summer will have slipped away. Most importantly, remember that you are worth the time that you make for yourself. You cannot help others if you are not healthy. Cheers to plants, healthy routines, and for the wisdom we gain together on this journey!