Post Title:  Savoring the Month of July.

I dimly hear the familiar refrain of my cell phone. Then it grows louder. Ohhhh. Where is it? Where am I? My eyes slowly open. The bright light and deep contrasting shadows remind me of my surroundings. I remember the lure of the sunshine. Opening the back door. Heading for a sunny patch in the back yard. Stretching out. Then, bliss. I must have fallen asleep.

“Come on, girl! I’m headed for an ice cream run. You in ?”

Kathy, my childhood friend, sounds irritatingly perky on this lazy Sunday afternoon.

I sigh and shield my eyes. I tap my talking watch. Half-past two. A yawn escapes. “’Course I am. When you coming by?”

“You sound like you’ve been sleeping,” she accuses. The idea of spending precious, prime-time daylight hours asleep never occurs to Kathy. “It’s not time to sleep. Get ready. I’m on my way.”

The grass feels soft and warm. I hate to leave it – even for a spontaneous ice cream run in the middle of the afternoon. “It’ll be worth it, especially if we drive to where they have Perry’s hard ice cream,” I say outloud.  Will it be Mint Tingaling today? Or Chunky Monkey? Black Raspberry Custard? This is worth waking up for!

Ju-LIE, A Relaxing Month to Savor.

In Northwest Pennsylvania, we have four seasons. Of all of them, I long most for July.

Ah, ice cream. Never one to miss out on a sweet jaunt to Dairy Oasis, Creamland or Dairy Queen, No, not me. Whether it be a lazy Sunday afternoon or late evening run, I was always IN.

But July doesn’t only mean ice cream. There are parades to watch and fireworks in our small town. We had four full after-dark extravaganzas this year. I either listened from our front porch or from my bedroom window. I’ve lost the ability to see much of them so I’m quite happy to focus on hearing and I easily imagine the colors that accompany the big booms.

This month, my  brother and I have already attended a fish fry, and a few family picnics, and enjoyed a couple of out-of-town meet-ups.

July also brings a great run of lovely weather to tend to an array of gorgeous flowers – and weeds! I never run out of things to do in the garden. Evening brings nightly walks with my brother in the neighborhood for our health. There are visits with the neighbors, and kids out on bikes. My favorite aunt has come and gone…

July is a month where one day melds into another, and before you know it, the days have passed and we head into the last month of summer. Noticing the halfway mark has prompted me to reflect on why it holds such a special place for me.  Why do I savor it?

The sun comes out more frequently, making the days long and comfortable. I wear shorts and t-shirts most of the time. Pants or capris are reserved for the rare dinner event or odd rainy day.

In July, the high school track is always free to run on. Students are gone for the summer and don’t return until mid-August. There is no cross-country paraphernalia (like vaulting horses or flimsy green indoor/outdoor carpets) to trip over or football players to intrude on my running space. No marching band to wrestle for space or steal the lovely silence I enjoy when running. Ah, July, where the sun is high and my time is my own to dream while my feet hits the springy pavement of the track.

My Seasons in the Sun.

In my teenage years, I could hardly wait for school to end so I could start my summer job, a special privilege. My dad always put me on the crew in his tree business. I would be what we commonly called on the job, “a stick-picker,” a ground man who cleaned up after the tree-cutters. A stick-picker did whatever didn’t require a chain saw. I stacked firewood in the truck from the branches cut up, chipped brush, raked debris, filled up the chainsaw with gas and oil and handed them to the climber, fetched bull ropes at the start of the job and put them away at the end. I started my work season in June and by July I was deep into the work culture.

I loved waking up early and riding with my dad to “the land” where he met with his various crews and he assigned jobs. Dad always had strapping tree fellers so I didn’t mind which crew I ended up on. In fact, each summer I had a secret crush on one or two of the workers.

The rain usually meant a quick cloudburst. We raced to gather up the equipment and have a doughnut break. Then the sun came out and we would finish a job, refreshed. How I relished the sun on my arms and face and how tan I became over the long days of July. A few weeks into August, I had to give up work to buy school clothes and get ready for a new academic year.

July, a Time to Travel..

After I grew up and took on a real career, I became an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher. When I taught overseas, July was also the single month my teaching duties didn’t intrude on my travels. Over the years, I traveled to Chinese tea gardens, Greek coliseums and islands, the Ecuadorian rainforest, the Scottish countryside,  Japanese temples and mountains, and always, home.

The further away I taught, the more I appreciated my childhood home. I always set aside a part of July for doing nothing but spending time with family. Long, lovely days passed slowly with picnics and get-togethers. Punctuated by ice cream breaks, car shows, church meetings, rodeo dates at the ranch where my sister’s family was involved. I enjoyed our small-town parade on the Fourth of July, and sprinting to garage sales with my sister “and the girls” (my nieces). These days in July took on special meaning.

Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables, Memories of the Tropics.

In later years, I appreciated the freshness of local produce at nearby roadside stands. The frequent trips to pick up fruits and vegetables bound my mom, my sister and me together. Ripe, red tomatoes, round striped watermelons, fat green zucchinis and cucumbers screamed health and flavor to me. Other colors splashed into our focus–sweet blueberries and cherries, juicy peaches, tart pears, ah, the tastes! Nothing like home-grown food. July was the peak of our produce season.

picture of juicy seasonal fruits - watermelon cut in heart shapes, black and red raspberries, blueberries

July also reminds me of the hot weather I enjoyed in the tropics (Latin America, the Middle East). A few weeks ago, I received a sticker in the mail from a good friend, which read, “I was made for sunny days” and that is the truth. The sun always brightens my day, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

I feel blessed to live in an area that brings so many things I cherish together. My parents and sister are gone now. The girls are all grown up and have their own families. I no longer teach or travel overseas. Instead, I now own the family home in northwest Pennsylvania.

Although I’m losing my vision due to Retinitis Pigmentosa, I can still feel the sun shining down on me. I will never lose that. I look forward every summer to July, where I live in shorts and t-shirts most of the time and hit the track whenever I can. My older brother drives me to the local produce stands. The distinct aromas help me choose the best on the shelves. The heat calms me and reminds me of the best times of my life — and that there are still more to come.

Life is rich and abundant. Losing your vision doesn’t mean you can’t live a wonderful, fulfilled life. I focus on gratitude and the blessings that come my way, especially in July.

What is your favorite season and why?  

You have just read “Savoring the Month of July” by Amy L. Bovaird. © July 16, 2019.

Hurting? Facing loss? When we least expect it, God sits us down to a picnic of love.

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5 Stars “…I’m not vision impaired. I don’t read non-fiction for enjoyment. I am not what some might consider the target market for this book, but I can tell you that I would recommend it to my own teenagers, my husband, my teenage students, and anyone else I know as a book of bravery, encouragement, motivation, testimony, and just as a pleasure read. Don’t pass it by: You will be blessed.”–An Amazon Reader

–An Amazon Reader

5 Stars   “Living in the Power instead of the fear!”

Mobility Matters elegantly shares Amy Bovaird’s emotions and experience which anyone going through vision loss can identify with. The transformation as she overcomes her fear and the enemies voices that her loss of vision will now define who she is as a person and dictate the rest of her life, will inspire hope to each reader. Amy’s journey stepping out in faith and how the Lord’s Word gave her the strength to keep going, is a must read.

This book is not only for those going through the hallway of vision loss, but for each family member or any one who loves someone losing their vision would also benefit by reading.

Mobility Matters Stepping out in Faith has left me thinking I will now call canes power sticks!!!

Michael Benson, Founder
Visual Experience Foundation

Michael Benson, Founder, Visual Experience Foundation

4 Stars  “…As a mobility specialist myself, I found this book of great interest to me for its subject matter. I was quite amazed that Amy could get around on her own with her genetic condition, particularly at night, since individuals with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) tend to lose their night vision and are using a cane at night much sooner than Amy was using any assistive device (even a bright light). Amy maintained her positive attitude, her faith and her sense of humour. If only we all could do that in times of crisis!” –Kathryn Svendsen, Mobility Specialist, Canada

–Kathryn Svendsen

5 Stars  “Couldn’t stop reading until I finished. Very inspirational. Will definitely be looking for more by this author!” –Sharon Hannah

–Sharon Hannah

5 stars “…This book really inspired me. Amy’s outlook on life is what I would like to model in my own. Yes, going blind SUCKS but she took it to another level. She made it into an adventure and I needed to be reminded of that again. Her positive outlook on this all has really encouraged me in my current situation now. Taking the step of faith to move on forward and embrace life for what it is. I highly recommend purchasing this book! Be inspired, take a journey behind the life of someone with Usher, smile, laugh, and enjoy! –Andi Nicole

–Andi Nicole

5 Stars “As a person who lives with chronic illness, I sometimes get bogged down with books on illness that feel really heavy. This one does not. Author Amy Bovaird, who is losing her sight, writes so well about her personal experiences, I feel like I’m walking alongside her as I read. I kept coming back to the story to see what happened–was she going to let fear stop her? Would she overcome?
The lessons Amy learns through her experiences apply to any of us who fear aging, illness, new symptoms, or really anyone who needs some inspiration, and that reminder that much can be accomplished if you step out and forward–even when you cannot see beyond that first step. I definitely enjoyed this book. –Kimberly Rae, Bestselling Author of the Stolen Series

–Kimberly Rae, Your Content Goes Here

Blog post review by Gillian Davis, RP Tunnel of Sight
One of the best books I have ever read about mobility and white cane use is called Mobility Matters: Stepping out in Faith by Amy Bovard. It is funny, poignant and packs a lot of tips and useful information. You can find it by following the link below to Amy’s web page and listen to a chapter before you buy, it is wonderful.

Gillian Davis, RP Tunnel of Sight

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