The cool breeze comes in through the window at 6 am. It’s completely still out – nothing but the sound of birds and plump green leaves shuffling in the wind. A lost bee charges towards the window ricochets off the screen and buzzes off in search of blooms. The sounds of summer are familiar, but this summer will be different from all of the others. No sweaty train trips into London, no anticipated adventures abroad to research and plan. Our lazy days will take place in familiar territory, the same as the previous four months here at home.
It’s hard not to be wistful. Some days, it’s hard not to be angry too. If only we had been well supported by the government, with an emphasis on the collective rather than the individual, things would look different than they do now. Instead, we’ve had members of the government breaking the ‘recommendations’ they set for others and a clear prioritization of those at the top whilst cutting funds, services, and programs that support the rest of us and our children. We’ve seen greedy entrepreneurs looking to make a buck off of those most vulnerable, propelling the ‘every man for himself’ anthem of capitalism. One thing that has become painfully eye-opening throughout all of this is the number of freedoms that aren’t actually freedom, but rather exploitation (or just plain excuses) wrapped up in a flag. We are long overdue for a deep hard look into the real definition of freedom… but here we are, trying to make lemonade and remind ourselves that this is all temporary. Hopefully, the emotional effects are too.
As a family with some underlying health risks, we are learning together how to look after our emotional health whilst we stay at home. They are hard-won skills even on the best of days, but I am hanging onto the belief that they will and are serving us well, and are worth the investment.
Last week we ventured out for our first real family outing in four months that wasn’t the local park (oftentimes at dawn when it’s empty), to a pick-your-own farm that was offering socially distanced and reduced capacity picking slots. Have you ever seen or experienced letting a dog off of its lead and watching it race full tilt into a field, tongue and tail wagging? This was the human iteration. The girls raced through cornfields and strawberry patches, over stretches of expansive green, under a bright blue sky. And we took a big, deep breath. Then, we made strawberry ice cream.
Several years ago I learned a trick from a friend and chef on how to make delicious homemade ice cream without an ice cream maker. The secret ingredient: condensed milk!
If you ask me, this ice cream tastes like the carefree summer days we are longing for; sun-warmed fruit and days at the beach and picnics in lush green fields with a cold beer and plates full of finger foods. The kind of summer I’ll keep reminding myself we will return to if we just hang on, keep practicing resilience, and work towards creating a more inclusive meaning of this word freedom that we love so much.
Wishing you all a happy summer, filled with sun, strawberries and ice cream.