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The summer that changed us

Summer in North Dakota is filled to the brim and overflows a bit. We don’t complain about the heat or the running around because we know there will be plenty of time to sit and catch our breath in the long winter months. So we fill it full of fairs and fireworks and days at the lake or days spent doing not much more than enjoying its life-giving warmth.

Summertime here is late nights and long days, and we cherish all of it! When my kids were small they had nap times and bedtimes, and there definitely were set times. But the summer my youngest was three and my oldest was nine, we bought 20 acres north of town and moved into a camper while we built our tiny home and all of my set times went right out the camper window. I remember looking at my dirty faced three-year-old on the drive to town where she would often fall asleep and wake up ready to continue where she left off and wondering if I had been too caught up in the schedule.

I was tasting freedom for maybe the first time and I liked it. We had campfires nightly as the propane leaked a bit in the borrowed camper we were living in and we were terrified of having to drive it to town to fill it up. We were up with the birds and went to bed with the stars and man, life was good. That summer was filled with sunshine and heat and dirt and wind and looking out that big camper window where I could see for miles.

My thoughts about my home and life in North Dakota changed that summer to that of grateful and purposeful, savoring of all that she is, in all of her seasons. It was when I realized that living life on that 20 acres would be wonderfully and forever marked by seasons and that it was necessary to live summer in abundance.

Yes, summer is for soaking up hot sunshine and freedom from schedules and late nights and last minute campfires and always s’mores. My perspective changed and I believe our quality of life along with it. I realized that summer was to be spent savoring all of these seemingly mundane things, like soaking up sunshine and sweeping up sand and eating straight from the garden or the campfire, and that all of it was refueling the soul and preparing us for winter, or seasons that felt like winter.

And truthfully, we went from living life well, to loving the life we were living, and the place we were living, and the way we were living. It all started that summer and hallelujah, it continues this summer! I hope you can find a way to soak up and be refueled by all that is summer. Stay up late, wash sticky marshmallows off of dirty hands and pack a blanket in your car for impromptu picnics everywhere you go. Eat fresh from the garden and spend more time outside than inside. Your soul will thank you. The late Mary Oliver reminds us well:

“Instructions for living a life.

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.”

Written by Rebekah Engebretson


Rebekah lives in a little house on the prairie with her husband and 4 daughters near Watford City. She is a huge North Dakota fan and loves people and taking pictures and personality tests.

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