The long weekend is over and it's back to the office - but this week I bring with me the warm memories of laughter, of freedom, and of the sun-kissed afternoons that melted into warm summer evenings, spent with the ones I love. As much as I adore my job, there is something about having four full days stretched out before you, free to be filled however you choose, that is so incredibly liberating.
Free to have my long, slow, coffee-sipping mornings, followed by an extra long run along my beloved Finger Lakes Trail; to stop and appreciate a hitherto unnoticed glen off the beaten path, and to listen for the birdsongs that are so easily muted into the background hum of everyday life.
Free to finish that run with an impromptu swim at Ithaca Falls and some peaceful stretching and meditation beside the gently running creek; to sit back and watch my community share this beautiful refuge, from children splashing in the shallows, to one or two ambitious waders fishing upstream.
Free to take my time preparing a fresh, nourishing lunch of veggies from this week's CSA; to taste every flavor and relish in the solitude of a quiet mealtime on my front porch, watching the ebb and flow of my lovely neighborhood in Fall Creek.
Free to spend an entire afternoon painting, dreaming, and creating; to finish up the pieces I began in a spare moment a few weeks or (sigh) months back, and to finally begin the ones I've had mulling in the back of my mind for some time now.
Free to break this much-needed solitude with a potluck at the lake, where my afternoon quietude is pierced with the welcome laughter of the ones I hold dear; with the loving preparation of a communal supper, with the shared appreciation of good friends and good food, with the hushed murmuring that we adopt as the sun sets over Cayuga Lake.
Free to draw out this perfect evening as long as I like, knowing there is no early morning commute to prepare for, no obligation that will require a full night's sleep and a clear head tomorrow. Free to revel in the companionship of my friends, in the beauty of this place where I feel so blessed to live, and in the privilege of losing track of time. Free to Be. Here. Now.
So, as I begin this work week anew, revived and refreshed by a wonderful Independence Day Weekend, I am taking this moment to be grateful for these freedoms. Grateful that I live in a country that (despite sometimes missing the mark) values the liberty of it's people and their right to pursue their own happiness; grateful that I have a job I love, from which I sometimes need time off; grateful that I have such wonderful friends and family with whom to spend that time. Grateful to be free.