Summer Hours: A Landscape Designer’s Dream

By August 18, 20094 Comments
by Julie Moir Messervy
Julie’s pond in the morning light. Photo: Julie Messervy

For the first time since my kids were little, I decided to go on “summer hours” this year. To better enjoy this brief Vermont season, made even shorter by the incessant rain throughout June and July, I’ve been sending staff (and taking myself) home–at 3 PM every day.

It’s the best decision I’ve made in years. For now, rather than sitting in a sweltering office from morning until evening, I’m taking some breathing room away from it. Instead, for part of each day, I swim in our pond, work in the ever-growing vegetable garden, pick and put-up fresh peach preserves and cucumber pickles, play tennis with Steve—I’ve actually learned how to do something other than work.

The vegetable garden and back yard
The vegetable garden and back yard. Photo: Julie Messervy

And thanks to our summer hours, I’ve shed some pounds from being so active every day; my tennis is much improved; and thanks to all the hard work in the gardens, my own “home outside” looks better and better every day. More good news from a quieter life—I’ve made up (and given) a new lecture on creativity and have finally started writing my spatial archetypes book at last; something I’ve been wanting to do since I dreamed up the theory twenty years ago. Amazing how a little free time can open up so much room for creativity.

At the office, my new assistant Val and I have used this summer to keep us connected to the world beyond Vermont. We’re just completing a book on the Toronto Music Garden (coming out this fall), finalizing the details of our new online Home Outside Design service, and readying the first three workshop videos for launching on the blog. And next week, construction starts on an exciting project that I’ll cover in an upcoming post. Even with a shortened workday, we have still accomplished a lot this summer.

The path to the pond

The path to the swimming pond. Photo: Julie Messervy

Understandably, summer hours may not be an option for every person or business, but if you do have the chance to make a summer schedule, it’s a great opportunity to move with the season, to nurture mind and body, explore creative interests, or just take a breather and go at a slower pace.

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Anne Brewer says:

    Isn’t it funny how, if we allow enough space in our lives for quiet time, creativity and inspiration happen? Sometimes we become more productive with meaningful projects when we are not slaves to the clock.
    I’m so excited about your new book coming out, the one you are starting, and the workshop videos!! I’ll be signing on with your first one.
    Thanks you, Julie, for sharing your ideas and experiences- they are truly beautiful.

  • Robin Heaney says:

    What a wonderous environment to live in! Congratulations at being so successful at what you love to do. Kath(y)erine Fengler sent me a reunion pix of you. Age has not hurt your beauty, deepened it more. I have your home e-mail address.
    I just got a digital camera a few months ago. I’m trying to send e-mail pix without reading the directions (typical), but I’ll figure it out. It was nice to try to hear your voice for a few seconds over the band at the reunion.
    I’ve seen other pictures of lots of people and don’t know who anyone is!
    What part of Vermont do you live in. My favorite cousin and aunt live in NW CT, Salisbury and Lakeville, respectively. Gorgeous country.
    So when I go back and read the directions, I’ll send you my still (’til Dec.) 57 yr. old self.

  • Bert says:

    Stillness and solitude. slowing down, pausing and not fearing the quiet of unemployment.

    Stopping and realizing how rich we are.

    Summer hours, the rent still gets paid and relationships prosper.

    The accomplishment of quiet intense engagement is such a foretaste of glory divine, blessed assurance of the inward and outward garden.

    Thank you for coming to work today and yes, you are lucky to still have a job. So please take this afternoon off so with summer hours we can get our Job done right the first time.

    Your buddy Bert

  • Dear Anne, Robin, and Bert,

    Thank you all for writing. Summer hours are over, alas, but the reds, oranges, and yellows of the leaves right now are bringing their own beauty to the land. Swimming still, but in a wetsuit!

    Bert–a treat to see you at the workshop. Robin, please write and send that photo–we missed you at the reunion. And Anne, thank you for your thoughtful comments. It makes a big difference to know that what we put out into the world is received so graciously.