Summer is here and in North Dakota that means cramming as much fun in a three-month time period as possible.
For my family it also means trying to keep up with fencing and haying at the ranch while juggling work (because we still have to work) and getting the kids in their swimsuits as much as possible, even if it just means splashing in the tiny plastic wading pool currently collecting dirt and bugs on my deck.
Yes, summer means that my babies constantly smell like sunscreen and bug spray and come in from outside with a warm, sweaty glow on their faces. It means 9 PM supper and 10 PM bedtime because no matter how hard we try we just can’t settle down until the sun settles down. It means picking wildflowers and swatting bugs, sleepovers with the cousins and slow walks down the gravel road pulling baby dolls in the wagon.
A western North Dakota summer means digging in the garden and praying the hail from the summer storm doesn’t take our little tomato crop while we lean into the screen and count the seconds between thunder and lightning.
Summer out here means searching for the right place to dock the boat or plant a beach chair on the shores of Lake Sakakawea and spitting sunflower seeds waiting for a bite to hit your pole, trying to convince the kids to swim where they won’t scare the fish away.
And then summer is laughing even though they aren’t listening, knowing that this time of year, especially in a place where it’s so fleeting, is magic for kids. And you can’t blame them, because you remember the rush of the cold lake water against your hot skin and how you would pretend your were a mermaid or a sea dragon and the afternoons seemed to drag on for days before the sun started sinking, cooling the air and reminding you that you were not a mermaid after all, but a kid in need of a hamburger and juice box.
You remember the way the fresh cut grass stuck to your feet as you did cartwheels through the sprinklers or the how you smelled after coming in from washing and grooming your 4-H steer in preparation for county fair. You remember the anticipation of the carnival, the way the lights of your town looked from the top of the Ferris wheel and how maybe you brought a boy up there with you and maybe he held your hand.
Summer in North Dakota is dandelion wishes and a fish fry, fireflies and camping in tents that never hold out the rain. Summer is wood ticks and scraped knees, bike rides and gramma’s porch popsicles, catching candy at parades, swimming pool slides, drinking from the hose and trying to bottle it all up into memories that won’t fade.
This month you blew us away when we asked you to submit your favorite summer photos for the cover. We received countless submissions of kids and families making the most of this fleeting season, jumping in lakes, riding in rodeos, catching fish and eating ice cream out of the back of a pickup. There were so many great moments captured that we asked for help to choose and wished we could print a cover for each submission. The cover photo was chosen after we put our top ten final photos out for a vote and we really believe the winner captures the essence of summer.
And because we couldn’t resist, inside this issue you will find a spread of the rest of our favorite summer photos submitted by you, along with a variety of articles that will put you in the mood to make the most of this time of year.
See ya at the kiddie pool!