The August evening was gentle and carried hints of summer days which begin to slip away like pearls from a string by mid-August. When school is over in June, summer lies before us as limitless possibility, but all too soon dusk falls earlier each evening, and there is a subtle shift in the season which reminds us that much of summer is now behind us.
This summer has been uncomfortably humid in upstate New York, and there have been many worrisome issues on my mind and much work to be done, so July and early August have passed by without as much pleasure as I had anticipated in June. There have been some wonderful and memorable moments with my two little grandchildren. We spent a morning at Adirondack Animal Land, a wonderful little zoo which is perfectly charming for preschoolers. We celebrated Alivia's birthday at Hoffman's Playland -- a local amusement park which is a long-time landmark. Watching Luke and Alivia together on the rides was precious -- they share a deep love and caring for each other, which I hope will continue as they grow up. From my own experience, I know what a treasure a beloved cousin can be as we journey through life.
The past couple of weeks I have been physically and emotionally exhausted, and last night when my husband suggested dinner out I was thrilled. While the economy has severely limited our "entertainment" budget, we have managed a few meals at one of our favorite summertime restaurants, Yanni's at Coeymans Landing. This restaurant is a retreat of sorts on the banks of the Hudson River. There is a large, covered open-air deck, complete with paddle fans for warm nights, and portable heaters for chilly evenings. Boats from the adjoining boat club are moored directly in front of the restaurant, so as we sit, my husband can dream his dreams of sailing his days away, and I can enjoy the soothing water and dense treeline on the opposite shore. The food is scrumptious -- New England clam chowder that can't be matched; baskets of fried shrimp, scallops, oysters, etc., and in season, delectable fried zucchini. Of course, there are also more heart-healthy alternatives, but these are my splurges for the season.
Last evening, as I sat on the deck, savoring the chowder and a glass of pinot grigio, I was blessed with the sight of a mother duck and six fluffy little babies wobbling towards our table. Of course I know that you are not supposed to feed the ducks, but I couldn't resist those fluffy little faces, and I opened a package of oyster crackers for them. What pleasure it was to watch those precious creatures savoring the crackers like they were a gift from Heaven. It was the highlight of my evening to stroke the soft feathery down of those babies.
As the stresses of life seem to close in, and we feel that possibly the best in life is behind us and there are no solutions to the problems we face or the worries we carry, it is most important to spend some time outside -- to savor the sights, sounds, and scents of nature -- and to allow our souls to be soothed by God's gift of beauty that surrounds us in each season. While many people find God's spirit in grand cathedrals, I feel his spirit most strongly in the quiet breeze that caresses my cheek and in the trusting face of a fluffy duckling.