Treena Mielke

Mielke: Life seems easier in summer

For me, one of the best things about these fresh, new days of summer when the air feels like a soft, warm hug is hanging out with my neighbours in the front yard with a cool one, chatting about not very much at all.

Life seems easier in the summer, somehow. Probably, because it is.

Anyway, the other day the neighbours pulled up these folding chairs stored in our garage (actually, they are their folding chairs leftover from last summer) and settled down in our driveway just to chat.

The talk, of course, after we talked about life at the ballpark, the soccer park, and the skateboard park, which is where their children and my grandchildren spend much of their waking hours these days, revolved around the dollar signs that continue to escalate even as I write this column.

Money! Who has it and why? Oh, to win the lottery!

As we talked about the cheapest place to buy gas, which I wasted a lot of gas looking for the other day, the sun ominously slipped behind a cloud and I involuntarily shivered.

The price of gas at the pumps has left everyone, me included, a bit shell shocked. Being that I’m nearsighted, even with my glasses on, I almost fall through the windshield in horror when I’m squinting at those prices.

“What?” I mutter, thinking, “oh my goodness, that can’t be right,”

It is!

And still, cars are lined up, and consumers such as me, sigh deeply, pull out our debit cards and fill up watching with disbelief as the numbers roll relentlessly by.

And then we realize we have to get groceries. Another downer.

I walk around and around the grocery store, trying to increase my steps on my Fitbit so I can tell myself I’m at least moderately active, hoping, in the interim I will find some super, great savings proving I am also frugal.

A moderately active, frugal shopper.

That’s what I want to be. And some days I am. Some days, not so much.

For instance, my husband is addicted to cheezies, so I buy them, regardless, just to keep him happy.

And I got an SOS call from my daughter the other day as she needed a babysitter. Her children were sick.

“I’m on my way,” I said, quickly driving to the nearest pump and filling up my gas tank, oblivious to the price on the pump.

“She needs me,” I muttered. In my world, being needed trumps the price of gas, anytime.

The truth is gas prices, grocery prices and pretty much anything else on God’s green earth that will cause you to depart with any of your hard-earned cash is not going to be cheap.

Some people blame the government. Of course, they do. Just check Facebook. The government has been slashed and burned so many times on Facebook by people who are apparently really smart, it makes you wonder if they, in fact, should be running the country.

Anyway, this much I know to be true.

My friend counted 101 robins on his lawn the other day.

The first leaves of summer are just starting to show themselves, changing the stark, bare silhouettes of the poplars to a gentle, green softness. The ice is out on Sylvan Lake and, for me, the lake, itself, is an ever-changing blue oasis of beauty that money can’t buy.

And, once again, our neighbours are more than happy to pull up a couple of lawn chairs, sit themselves down in our driveway and chat about this, that, and the other thing.

Just because.

I love it.

And in spite of the cost of pretty much everything, one thing I know for sure.

I am rich!

Treena Mielke is a Central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.