You know that kind of amped-up feeling you get by the end of a long, busy day? When all you want to do is sit in front of the TV and veg for awhile? (Or at least I tend that way – you may have other wind-down activities. 😊)

But I’ve discovered a much more pleasurable way to relax and best of all, it couldn’t be simpler or easier. Want to join me?

It’s hot outside, so before venturing outdoors, I pour the drink of my choice depending on my mood. Most often, this is ice water, but occasionally it’s lemonade, or iced tea, or a glass of wine, or as a special treat, a Pimm’s cup). And I bring my trusty bug spray with me, in case mosquitoes get pesky.

With an apology to Julian Fergus, who’d like to come with me to be outside and to Lily, who’d just like to be wherever I am, I head out the door and down the stairs. I crank the patio umbrella up, move my chair to the shady spot that offers the best vantage point, and settle in.

The wind rustles the oak leaves and teases the wild oats that follow the arc of the patio and make it cozy. The bees buzz and our resident hummingbird swoops in for a snack at the azalea that’s blooming now. The sky is clear and blue and speckled all over with little white clouds, for all the world as if a bag of cotton balls had been ripped open and scattered across it.

I sit and sip my drink and feel the breeze and smell the perfume from the azalea blossoms that it carries to me. I listen to the leaves swishing and the birds singing and the bees humming and the little girl playing next door. My focus softens so that I’m not looking at any one thing in particular, but at everything around me at once. My breathing deepens and my whole body relaxes.

Five minutes is all it takes. But I’m never in a hurry to leave once I’m there.

TV really can’t compare.

The Sights

Here’s a highlight reel from a recent hour spent chilling in my patio hideaway.

This is a ‘Golden Showers’ azalea. Well worth seeking out for the fragrance alone! But if that’s not enough, it’s also healthy and vigorous, with a graceful branching pattern and glossy leaves. (Mezitt is the breeder, in case you want to search one out. 😊)

We always have catbirds in the summer and, for no reason in particular, I always name them Gert and Howard.

Fruit opportunists they may be, but I like them. In fact, I like them enough that I have ever-expanding beds of wild strawberries (Fragaria virginiana) with them in mind. (This is much to my husband’s chagrin, who thinks the strawberries should be for us.) But the birds love the little, red fruits and I love watching them.

There are no strawberries to spy from the patio, but there is a bird bath at the edge of the woods and Gert and Howard are frequent visitors. They’re quite devoted to one another and like to hang out together. Below, you can see one of the birds enjoying a dip while the other keeps watch from a nearby oak tree.

Squirrels are usually there for the watching, too, but they don’t always stop to say ‘hi’. In reality, the squirrel below is scratching his tummy, but it’s much more fun to imagine that he’s waving hello!

The hummingbird visits morning, afternoon, and early evening as long as the azalea is in bloom. Unfortunately, though, I’ve found it impossible to capture her on film. The movement of bringing the camera up to my eye spooks her, so I gave up trying to photograph her and I just leave her to enjoy her meal in peace.

And that is just a few of the attractions to be enjoyed from the patio. I hope you’ve enjoyed visiting! ❤️

What’s your favorite, everyday place to relax outdoors?