I’m a broken record and say this every year, but this year it seems especially true: summer flew by.
It was a blink. Maybe even half a blink.
I spent most of May, all of June and July, and a good chunk of August living about four hours northeast of Madison in Door County, Wisconsin. My original plan was to stay there longer term—at least a year or two—but within about six weeks of moving there my heart did some searching, my plans did some changing, and I ended up deciding to return to my old neighborhood.
I’d tell you the story about why, but it’s not much of a story to tell. Door County is lovely. My family that lives there is lovelier. There’s a magic to that part of the state that words can’t describe. I have nothing bad to say about it.
I moved back to my old stomping grounds simply because I feel like the resources, rhythm, and opportunities here align better with my personal and professional goals at this point in time. That may change someday. It probably will. But for now, I’m grateful for the perspective I gained over the summer, even more grateful for God’s evident guidance these past few months, and even more grateful still for the kindness, love, and generosity of my family who faithfully supported me in the midst of my up-and-down decision making process that’s wonky enough to drive even the most patient person bonkers. (Seriously. I put those poor people through the thick of it! I love you, guys!)
Before I close the chapter of Summer 2017, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite photos and memories from my months in Door County with you.
I’ll never forget the summer that I lived in the little yellow cottage off of Gibraltar Road, a few dozen paces from my parent’s house—the place that will always look, feel, and smell like another home to me now.
This is the cottage looking all sparkly and storybookish perched beneath a double rainbow. I snapped this photo in May. By the time I moved out in August, the plants were high and full enough to come above the window ledges thanks to a mild summer with lots of rain.
The cottage kitchen was small but strong. I ate most of my meals in the main house—I joked with my parents that it felt like I was in summer camp every time I came up to the “Mess Hall” for food—but everything in the cottage kitchen worked just fine. I made many a cup of tea on that stove.
I fit in a few walks by the Ephraim lake shore when I could. The towns in Door County are heavily visited by tourists each summer, so to beat the crowds I did most of this in June before the masses arrived.
Eagle Harbor in Ephraim is known for it’s stunning sunsets. I went down to the harbor to watch them now and then—and they did not disappoint. I’d find a spot away from the ice cream crowd on one of the docks, read a book, and watch the sun melt down into the horizon. It was magical.
I learned something new this summer: Some of the most striking colors of a sunset happen after the sun has set. It always amazed me how many people would watch the sunset at the harbor and immediately after the sun had dropped below the horizon line they’d all leave. I found that the most stunning display of colors often happened 10-15 minutes after the sun had dropped. The photo above, for instance was taken at least 10 minutes post-sunset. Pictures cannot do justice to the brilliance of the colors that night.
Dew-laden morning walks on the quiet country roads of Door County have carved out a place in my heart forever. I didn’t take my phone with me often on walks, but when I did I always tried to snap a photo or two of something beautiful to remind me later that yes, this kind of peace really does exist. I really was here. This really did happen. Mornings have never been so sweet.
And then there were the nights. If I had to leave Wisconsin tomorrow and could never come back again, I would never—not in all my years of being gone—forget the magic of summer nights in the Midwest. The moody light, the hum of the insects, the smell of freshly cut grass mixed with rain, the way everything feels brand new and timeworn all at once—it’s heavenly.
By August, my mom and dad’s garden was cranking out loads of lettuce, kale, onions, garlic, green beans, cabbage, broccoli, potatoes, and tomatoes. Since moving back to Madison, not too many things have been a big disappointment, but one thing I really miss is the organic produce right out the back door. It’s a salad-lover’s dream!
I will look at photos like these in January to remind myself that color will once again return to the earth, winter won’t last forever, and all good things really are worth waiting for. (Side note: I was reading At Home in the World. Great book.)
All in all it was a summer full of family, restoration, shifts in perspective, and celebration. It went by too fast, as all summers do, and has left me with that strange blend of longing for what was and peace with what is.
This summer fed my soul and my spirit in ways I didn’t expect. I’m surprised. I’m grateful. Most of all, I’m hopeful.
God unveiled new layers of hope to me this summer, inviting me deeper into the story He has for my life and work. I’m eager to follow His lead, to take the next right step in faith and love.
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