Summers are hard, for me, in my life here on Beaver Island.
Business is at its peak at my workplace, and we are busy there every day. This time of year, we handle several thousand pounds of freight each week, along with all of the lifting and climbing, reaching and carrying jobs that go along with work in a hardware store. I start almost every day with Ibuprofen for backache; I can’t seem to find shoes that make it easier to be on my feet all day; I wonder if my knees will ever recover. I go home exhausted.
At home, I have a garden to tend to, a house to keep up and a yard to maintain. I have dogs that need attention and organized activities. I prepare food for packed lunches and for my dinners at home. In the summer, I have to stay focused, or things will fall behind. More than they already are.
It is summertime when familiar faces, away for the cold months. show up. There are always people to catch up with. Friends and family, if they are going to visit, come in the warm days of summer. This is the season for family reunions. This is also the season, when travel is easier, for memorial services, dinners, wakes and other gatherings for those who died earlier in the year. There are annual meetings of the Beaver Island Boat Company, the Beaver Island Association, and others.
Summers on Beaver Island are busy, too, with organized activities. There is Bike Fest, Music Fest, Baroque on Beaver, Museum Week, Home-Coming, and more. There are bands and musicians in bars and restaurants, at our Community Center, and in other random venues. There are plays, movies, and performances.
I miss almost everything. Because I’m busy. And tired. That’s just the way it is. It’s okay.
Except, sometimes, when it’s not.
Last week, after an excruciatingly long and hard day at work, when I was thinking no farther than cereal for supper and an early bedtime, a co-worker spoke up.
“It’s such a beautiful day,” he said. “and the water is so calm! I’m going to get the guys together and see if they want to come with me in the boat.” He went on to outline his plans to go see a shipwreck that is visible under the surface of the water when the lake is calm, to enjoy the cool water and evening breezes, to maybe do a little fishing before the sun went down.
That did it.
“I haven’t done one single fun thing all summer,” I ranted to myself. As soon as I got home, I called to sign up for a pastel workshop, offered at the Beaver Island Studio and Gallery.
I have worked with pastels before. I didn’t feel that I needed a lesson so much as another viewpoint, a little direction and a different perspective. I needed to be around other artists, to be working out problems, and to be focused on art-making. For fun! It gave me all of that, and five hours to play!