8 books to kick off your summer reading

one of my favorite things about summer is the fact that i have so much free time to spend reading! i went to the library recently and checked out a bunch of summery books because they always make me feel happy and hopeful for the coming months. so for anyone who’s also looking for great summer reads, here are eight stories filled with adventure, sleepaway camps, beaches, and young love to keep you reading all summer long.

 

summer days & summer nights: twelve love stories by stephanie perkins – going into this collection of short stories, i was expecting cute, fluffy tales of young love. for the most part, that is not what i got. so many of these stories were melancholy and had bittersweet endings. personally, i think that all of the authors had the idea to make their story sad so that it would stand out from the rest, so then all of them ended up being a little bit miserable.

they aren’t all your basic straight contemporary romance either: there’s a range of genres (fantasy, horror, futuristic) and characters (interracial and lgbt+ couples, love interests with autism and depression, etc.). a theme that ran through most of them was a missing parent/broken family.

my favorite short stories from this collection were in ninety minutes, turn north, love is the last resort, and a thousand ways this could all go wrong.

bad magic by pseudonymous bosch – this is the first book of a series by one of my favorite authors. bosch’s books are always witty and engaging, with quirky characters you can’t help but root for. bad magic is about a boy named clay who gets sent to earth ranch, a summer camp for troubled kids on a volcanic island. but strange things keep happening at the camp — talking llamas, abandoned libraries, ghosts — and clay starts to wonder if there’s something more sinister going on at the island.

swing sideways by nanci turner stevenson – annie’s family is spending the summer in the countryside. while she’s exploring, annie meets california, a girl her age who’s staying on her grandfather’s farm. the two become friends and spend their summer trying to the ponies that california’s mom owned as a child, which the girls think are roaming the woods. it’s a touching story about eating disorders, loss, freedom, and friendship.

lemons by melissa savage – this middle grade story reminded me so much of the cartoon gravity falls, which is probably why i loved it so much. in lemons, a young girl named lemonade who’s lost her mother gets sent to live with her grandfather in a small town. her grandfather, charlie, owns a bigfoot-themed souvenir shop. there are lots of strange bigfoot-sightings throughout town, all of which are reported to the bigfoot detective agency, which lemonade finds herself working for. overall, it’s a sweet story about friendship, grief, and of course, bigfoot.

honor girl by maggie thrash – this is a graphic memoir about maggie falling in love with one of the counselors at her all-girl summer camp. what i loved about this was the nostalgic feel and how spot-on the camp culture was. the art isn’t stellar, but it fits the youthful feel of the story quite well. it felt like it had been plucked straight from the author’s diary, and the ending just about broke my heart.

love & gelato by jenna evans – traveling, mysteries, forbidden love, italian food — this wholesome YA romance has it all. the adorable love interest and gorgeous descriptions of italy will have you hooked from the start, and the drama and emotional twists will make you finish it. my only complaints are that i thought lina, the main character, was kind of rude, and it was so strange to me that the whole story took place in just a few days. but it’s still a cute book overall and i’ve met several people who say it’s their absolute favorite!

we were liars by e. lockhart – this is one of those books that you should go into knowing nothing, so i won’t say too much about it in fear of spoiling the killer twist at the end. but at its simplest, we were liars is about a group of four friends and the summers they spend with their families on their private island. the writing is so gorgeous, and the feeling of dread grows the closer you get to the end until you can barely think about anything else.

frannie and tru by karen hattrup – i finished this book a week or two ago, and it’s the one that really got me excited about summer. in this coming-of-age story, frannie little’s cousin tru is sent to stay with her family for the summer after a bad coming out experience. frannie has been hoping that with tru around, she’ll have the most exciting summer of her life, which is exactly what happens. this is a lyrical, introspective novel about secrets, racism, sexuality, and growing up. however, i do think it’s one of those books where you either adore it or everything about it annoys you, and i am most definitely in the love camp.


have you read any of these books? what are your recommendations for summer reading?

xo apollo

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a love letter for the boy with the birdsong laugh

dear scout,

one day, my friend asked me what i looked for in a person. i considered the question and spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what someone would have to be like to make me love them forever. in the end, i simply came up with a list of things that describe you:

– you were kind to me when i so desperately needed it
– you understood my anxiety without me having to say a word
– you calmed me down just by being near
– you were smarter than me, which was new
– you never mentioned when i didn’t eat, but you always had chocolate chip cookies in your backpack for when i needed them
– you knew what my wounds were from and didn’t look at me any differently
– my favorite thing about you was that when you laughed, it sounded like birdsong

i lived with you for only two weeks during the worst summer of my life, but it was enough. i have never shown my heart to someone so quickly. all the afternoons spent wandering through the woods, lying on the sun-warmed brick plaza while watching the stars, sitting on the porch and revealing one puzzle piece of our lives at a time — i will cherish them forever.

i fell in love in the forest. now summer is gone and so are you.

you should know, i kept all the gifts you gave me. the leather bracelet dyed red as blood, the rocket with remnants of fourth of july glitter stuck to the inside, the handmade keychain made of twisted purple, blue, and red plastic strands; and so, so much hope.

skeleton // the front bottoms

when i hear your name, there are two memories that come to mind immediately. there was the night when you took my anxiety from an eight to a five just by sitting next to me and pressing your scraped up leg against my trembling one, and the evening when the grass around us turned slick and crimson with blood in an instant. there was a knife glinting in the twilight before your cursing filled the heavy, humid air.

i never told you, but that night you spent in the hospital after passing out in your own blood, i didn’t sleep at all. i sat on a picnic table in the dark and cried like it was all my fault while the blood dried on my skin and in my mouth and on the concrete at my feet. no matter how long i showered, i could not wash off the blood, or the guilt.

whenever someone put their arm around me or offered a tissue, i just shook harder and choked out a sob about how none of this would have happened if it weren’t for me. we would be sitting by the lake while the sun set; instead, i was so anxious that i threw up my salad, and you were forcing down pills while a doctor slipped a needle through your slit skin.

shut up and dance // walk the moon

tovah and candy gathered me on their cabin’s moss-covered porch after your oldest brother drove you to the hospital. they’d known you for years, they told me, and the boys in your family do dumb things when they’re trying to get a girl’s attention. sometimes that means seeing how many barbecue sandwiches you can eat in one night (your record was eight). other times it means doing a knife trick while walking and cutting your hand in two places. it’s not your fault, they told me. he just likes you, and he’s clumsy, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up over it.

but, i think. but, if you hadn’t asked me to walk down to the lake with you before everyone else got there, and if i hadn’t agreed, you never would have had your knife out in order to show off. if only i had said no, you would be ok.

i remember how frustrated you were when you got back from the hospital with stitches in your knuckle, glue on the severed tip of your thumb, and a clunky cast on your finger. you were late to breakfast all week because you couldn’t put on your glasses yourself, or lace up your hiking boots. i saw you shake with anger after the twentieth camper asked what you did to your hand.

that’s why i sliced open my palm one morning and soaked my half-eaten apple with blood: so people would leave you alone. they stopped staring at your cast, switching to cradling my hand and running gentle fingers over the bandage.

i still have scars on my palm from that day. if i see you again (and i pray that i will), i know you will have a deep cicatrix on your skin as well. i wonder if you think of me when the phantom pains make it ache.

scout, i know i never loved you. but, listen — i could have. oh god, i could have, and when the seasons change, i hope you come back into my life with the new summer. i left you last july without a kiss or even a goodbye, and when i lie awake at night, i think of what words i could have used to make you understand how i felt about you: the feeling of almost.

i know that i don’t know you that well, but i know i’ve been missing you like hell. (i know // motherfolk)


i wrote this in class when i couldn’t concentrate on anything else. a boy who loves me was reading over my shoulder, and now when my friends laugh, i see him tilt his head and listen for the one who sounds like a bird singing to the sun at dawn.

(unfortunately, scout doesn’t live here. which is a shame, because he flirts by sharing pictures of his cat, mr. kitty.)

xo apollo

ahg summer camp 2018

the annual summer camp post is finally here! this was absolutely the most interesting year so far, and i’m so excited to tell you guys about it.

i’ve been going to this camp for the past three years. it’s a boy scout camp that my scouting group, american heritage girls, gets to use for one week in august. it’s also the camp that i worked at as a CIT this summer.

the badges i took this year were pen & paper arts, creative crafts, boating safety, and outdoor cooking. my bff izzy and i were in all the same classes, and i was already friends with the counselors, so it was pretty fun.

pen & paper arts was taught by mary, who worked at outdoor skills during the boy scout camp and helped at the health lodge. we did origami, paper weaving, calligraphy, etc.

we were supposed to make something in the style of an illuminated manuscript, and this is what i made. it’s lyrics from peach // the front bottoms. i was originally planning on adding more drawings to the borders, but i decided that i didn’t care enough.

i created a stencil of a rocket and made this with it.

we tried suminagashi (paper marbling with water and ink, although we used paint) and mine turned out alright for a first try.

mary taught outdoor cooking, too. that day, we made all our meals in the class. most of the food didn’t turn out that well, and it took forever to get our fire started in the morning. it would’ve been fine if the other scouts actually listened to my tips, because i’m really good at making fires, but no such luck. they kept pushing the sticks i gathered out of the fire pit and telling me that i was building it wrong. i only got the fire going once most of the girls had drifted away to work with the food and i could do what i needed to.

i spent a ridiculous amount of time setting up this picture of my lumpy basket

jordan taught creative crafts at the handicraft lodge. he’s one of my favorite people at camp, and he’s going to college in my town, so that’s exciting. anyway, he showed us how to make clay pots and use a potter’s wheel, weave baskets, dye and stamp leather, and make gimp braids. while i loved his class, he didn’t get us anywhere close to earning our badge. i don’t think we even completed an entire requirement. i love jordan, but come on.

here are some pictures of stuff that i made in the class.

leather stamping

a calligraphy/watercolor disaster. i strongly believe that it’s the worst thing i’ve ever made, but i have no dignity left, so i’m going to share it with all of you.

boating safety was probably my favorite badge. we got to use rowboats, sailboats, and paddle boards. when we weren’t on the water, we were learning knots and how to radio for help and first aid.

i was signed up for an all-day hike on friday, but i hurt my ankle during a 5k the day before camp started, so i switched out of that. i ended up taking a waterfront survival class that was basically just lifegaurding stuff. i actually really enjoyed it, and it helped me get my swimming badge.

at one point, we were doing rescues with a pole, and a girl accidentally kicked the one i was using into the lake. (i got the blame, of course.) one of the staffers slid another pole down the dock to me, but he overshot and that one went into the lake, too, so we were out of poles.

beth & izzy during last year’s cinematography class

i got to meet up with old camp friends, which was probably the best part. beth was there, and we’ve been friends since my first year at camp. this year, we figured out that our real names are super similar (i’m loren, she’s laura, and we have the same middle name), and she hosted a “talk show” every night. we used a flashlight shining through a water bottle as a microphone, and we asked each other really dumb questions, the best of which was simply “eeg?” the number of imaginary listeners went up each night, but it started with just the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and her mom.

the other friend i was reunited with was rachel. she was there my first year of camp, missed the second, but came again this time. i love her so much, she’s kind of my other half. she likes the same music as me, has a dark sense of humor, and a rebellious streak. it’s surprising because she goes to an all-girls catholic boarding school, and that doesn’t fit her at all.

some shenanigans my friends and i got up to:

– rachel and i were hanging out in the deserted gaga ball pit at night, and we decided to make a bet. she thought her mom would come by soon and tell us that it was late and we should get to bed. her mom did show up a few minutes later, and she did comment on how late it was getting, but she never told us to go to bed, so i won. rachel was supposed to buy me food from the trading post, but it was closed, so she promised to do it next year instead.

– rachel and i were hanging out in the dining hall one night when we saw an entire apple pie on one of the tables. i love this camp’s apple pie, and i hadn’t gotten any for dinner that night. the pie didn’t seem to belong to anyone, so we took it and two spoons and went down to the fishing dock to eat it. we talked about mothman while we ate. it was honestly kind of magical.

we ate pie 2k18 ♥

– another girl i hung out with was paetyn. she probably hated me by the end of the week, because rachel and i sort of terrorized her during meals. we would select a piece of food, make it as awful as possible, and then get her to eat a bite (rachel and i usually tasted it, too). the worsts things we created, in my opinion, included a breakfast of powerade, instant oatmeal, ketchup, a hardboiled egg, and mustard in a cup, and a dinner of an already nasty BBQ sandwich, a raisin cookie, hot sauce, and cheetos, all doused in blue powerade. the staff actually encouraged it, which was maybe the funniest part. the boating instructor gave me the hot sauce to put on her sandwich.

– some of my friends and i were going down to the waterfront one evening when we found a pale green caterpillar outside the tent i shared with izzy. paetyn decided to kill it. she built a tiny cabin of sticks around it, used a chip as a fire starter, and burned the whole thing. it was really pretty cruel, but by that point, the caterpillar was in such bad shape it just seemed kinder to finish the job. once it was dead, we named the caterpillar kathryn and carried him down to the lake for a funeral. paetyn placed him on a lily pad and set that on fire, too. i gave a speech that was honestly quite touching and shed a tear or two. rest in peace, kathryn the caterpillar, you are missed.

– waterfront games is absolutely my least favorite part of camp. it was even worse this year because i couldn’t participate at all thanks to my sprained ankle. i guess beth and rachel hated it too, because they suggested we bail and go investigate the graffiti in the boys’ bathroom at the dining hall.  i didn’t want to vandalize anything in case it affected my chances of getting hired again, but rachel wrote “celery” in one of the stalls.

i really enjoyed the friday night campfire this year. the skits were terrible as always, but i loved watching my friends make fools out of themselves. i ended up having to embarrass myself too, though. the girls who took the search, survival, and rescue class had stolen my campsite’s flag and the patriots had to do the chicken dance to get it back.

(now, listen. that was technically against the camp’s rules. dancing/singing to retrieve belongings falls under hazing, which is prohibited, but i guess i’m the only one who knew that.)

i had to edit out one of the words on the bottom for safety reasons

the camp had a patch design contest for scouts this year. guess who won? :) i spent maybe an hour working on it the day of the deadline. it’s inspired by the totem poles at the camp’s entrance. it’s not that great, but it looks pretty dang good as a patch. and jordan told me that the staff was super proud of me for winning, so that was nice.

i’d lost my water bottle earlier that day (it was in the health lodge’s freezer, but i didn’t know that then), and by the time the campfire was over, i was ridiculously thirsty. the only water nearby was in the lake. so i got a cup from paetyn’s brother (he was on the staff and had been wearing a stack on his head) and just drank some of the lake water. it was honestly not that bad. a little warm and gritty, sure, but it was too dark to see the color, so it was alright. jordan noticed when i was on my second sip and sort of lost his mind. he screamed and slapped the cup out of my hands so it splashed all over us. it’s nice to know that he cared, but it was kind of rude.

every year after the campfire, there’s a sleeping under the stars event at the dining hall. and, every year, it rains and everyone spends the night inside instead. we watch a movie and the kitchen staff make us snacks and set out all the desserts that didn’t get eaten over the summer. we watched the lego movie this time, and when everything is awesome started playing, everyone sang along. it was kind of amazing. i love my generation.

the trading post was apparently giving out free slushies that night, and beth made me go with her to get one. unfortunately, they had just closed the store when we got there. but when they noticed it was me, they let us both in and we hung out with the staff for awhile. i know it didn’t matter that much, but it gave me the most wonderful feeling. i guess i realized that i had friends there who would bend the rules a little for me even though i wasn’t on staff that week.

i saved the most exciting adventure for last! tuesday morning, my sprained ankle was bothering me so much that i went to get ibuprofen from the health officer. i mean, it hurt so much that i woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep, and i was limping so bad i could barely get anywhere. anyway, i had a rough experience with pills when i was younger, so i’ve avoided them ever since. but pills were the only form of ibuprofen the health officer had, and i was willing to take them if it meant the pain would be more bearable.

i took the pills, and they helped a bit, so i went and got some more that afternoon. things were going alright until that evening, when my chest started to feel tight and it became hard to breathe and swallow. it seemed like an allergic reaction, but i’d never had one before, so i wasn’t sure. then i realized that it could be the effects of an overdose. the health officer had given me three pills that afternoon, which i was quite sure was too much medication for someone my size.

i figured the symptoms would go away eventually, so i tried to ignore it, but eventually it became so bad that i went and found the health officer again. he checked my oxygen levels and apparently they were lower than normal, and he said my throat was swollen. he decided to call an ambulance, and i ended up having to go to the ER. the EMTs gave me oxygen on the drive there, and when i got there i had to take more pills to help me breathe. i didn’t get back to camp until two in the morning.

it’s really going to suck it i’m actually allergic to ibuprofen. i’m an athlete, what am i going to do if i get injured during a game and can’t have any pain killer?

the health officer had to give me more oxygen later that week. i don’t know. that’s not really how i wanted camp to go, but it was certainly eventful, to say the least.


i wish i had more pictures of camp to use in this post, but there was a new rule this year asking that no one share photos of the scouts. i didn’t bring my good camera because of that, so the only pictures i have were taken on my ipod (which i wasn’t even supposed to have with me).

did you go to a camp this summer?

xo apollo

my summer in photos

let’s pretend this isn’t how it ends. walk through the garden of your heart’s plans. august love, you won’t remember it, but i can. (august love // grayscale)

(inspired by clara)

school started for me about two weeks ago, so summer is pretty much gone. but this summer felt like i was living out the plot of a ya-novel. i can confidently say that it was the best summer of my life, and maybe just the best time of my life in general. i think i’ll miss this summer until i die.

summer started with my best friend and i driving to the state border to frolic by a lake all afternoon. our sweaty hair was still tied back in ponytails from that morning’s soccer game. we picked bouquets of wildflowers, followed animal tracks through the sun-hardened mud, and fished (without any luck).

i accidentally locked our keys in the truck. we were miles and miles away from home and we didn’t have any cell service. we had to yank down the window an inch and use a fishing pole to pull the keys out.

my best friends and i were all reunited for one perfect day in late may. we met up at our co-op’s end of the year picnic and then relocated to bethany‘s enormous farmhouse. it was so hot that we couldn’t do anything more than lie around on the trampoline in their dusty barn and nibble on strawberry popsicles.

we caught up on how our lives had been going since the last time we’d been together. romance, summer plans, dreams, drama — everything confusing seems to fall into place once you share it with the people who know you best.

a round of popcorn gets intense.
hey there delilah

singing old love songs when your lips are stained bright red from the strawberries leaves me dying for a kiss.

it started to cool down in the evening, so we decided to go on an adventure. this “adventure” consisted of splashing around in a muddy stream until kelsie screamed that there was a snake in the water with us (there wasn’t).

we split up awhile later, three of us going to a lawn party while bethany went out to see another friend.

it’s easy to pretend that everything is simple when it’s twilight and you’re tumbling down a blow-up slide in your socks. this is what it’s like to be a kid again. this is what it’s like to be joyful.

we sprinted into a barn when it started to rain. beneath the fairy lights strung across the rafters were tables of food and desserts. i think i cried when there wasn’t any cheesecake.

and then there’s the old power dam. i biked there a few times to wade in the river and look at the graffiti. i don’t think i’ve ever found a place that’s more me. i love how it’s hidden but has lots to say, overgrown and vibrant. it seems almost romantic to me.

DSC_1433

ironic

the greatest lie the devil ever told was convincing the world he didn’t exist
i hope marty’s ok

one day someone will love me back, and i’ll take them here so they can see who i really am.

dear cheerful,
a poem

sweltering august days often lead to flushed faces
but summer isn’t the only reason for the heat in my cheeks
the staccato rhythm of the drumline across the parking lot
matches the pounding of my heart when i see you
the sweat glittering on your brow shines like tiny gemstones in the golden afternoon sun
it lights up your hair like a halo
sometimes, you are so beautiful it makes my chest ache

| summer 2018 playlist |

peach (lobotomy) // waterparks
take her to the moon // waterparks
stupid for you // waterparks
rollercoaster // bleachers
young volcanoes // fall out boy
never fall in love // MØ
time-bomb // all time low
rock to my roll // anarbor
still be around // a summer high
shut up and dance // WALK THE MOON
on top of the world // imagine dragons
favorite record // fall out boy
crush // tessa violet
wild heart // bleachers
riptide // vance joy


of course, there’s also all the time i spent at camp, and that’s what really made this summer so overwhelmingly wonderful. i’m working on a post right now about the highlights of my weeks there, and hopefully i’ll be able to get that up soon. :)

xo apollo

summer bucket list | results

 

hey! with school starting in two weeks, it’s time to review my summer bucket list and see if i actually did any of the things i set out to do.

(key: ✅ means i reached my goal, ❌ means i failed, and 🔵 means i partially did it.)

1) explore ✅

i think i got in a good amount of exploring this summer. i went to the dam down the road a few times to fish, pick up trash, and just get away from home. and i walked all over the camp i worked at and found some new areas, like the high ropes course, more remote campsites, and an animal graveyard.

2) read 15 books

i read 18 books this summer! my favorites were the gentleman’s guide to vice and virtue by mackenzi lee and i am princess x by cherie priest, but you can see all of them by friending me on goodreads.

3) nail my back handsprings

because of how often i was at camp, i had to quit gymnastics for the summer. since i don’t trust myself enough to practice back handsprings without a spotter, i didn’t get anywhere near to accomplishing this. that’s ok, though — i’m hoping to rejoin my gymnastics class in the autumn, and i’ll keep working on my handsprings then.

crew #68

4) vbs 🔵

vacation bible school was . . . wild. i had five little boys, including two sets of brothers (who were also cousins). they were good the first day, but then they got out of hand. one kid wouldn’t stop crab walking and punched me in the chin and none of them would listen to me. i got to skip the last two days for band camp, and i am so thankful for that, because i don’t think i would have made it.

(i’m giving this one a partial because i wasn’t there all week.)

5) hang out with friends 🔵

i actually didn’t see my friends much this summer. we were all just really busy. one was at a ballet intensive in the city for a month, and i only saw her once, when i went with her family to see her final performance.

but i did make a few new friends at camp and spent several weeks working with them. my bff izzy came to ahg camp with me, too.

6) earn 2 ahg badges

i actually got a few more than i was hoping for. gardening & plant science, nature & wildlife, and boating safety are ones that i’ve completely finished, and i’ve almost earned creative crafts, pen & paper arts, and swimming thanks to camp.

7) go to camp

i spent three weeks at camp this year (i was on staff for two weeks, and a camper for one) and had the best time of my life. so much crazy, fun stuff happened, and i’ll have to make a separate post about my experience, but there was never a dull day.

8) garden 🔵

because of my insane schedule, i didn’t get to tend to my garden very much. but it rained so much that my plants survived anyway. it sucks that i didn’t get to enjoy my flowers, though. and while everything is still alive, it’s totally overgrown, so it’s not even that nice to look at.

my hair is a hot mess

9) get a tan

i have visible tan lines for once in my life?? amazing. really, my skin is only darker because i didn’t use sunscreen at camp and got burned at the waterfront, but i think it still counts.

10) go swimming

i swam in the river by my house a few times, went tubing, jumped into a pool with all my clothes on while at camp victory, hiked to a swimming hole, and swam everyday at ahg camp for the boating badge and waterfront survival/lifesaving class.


so i completed six of my goals, sort of did three, and only failed one. i’m usually rather horrible at keeping up with the goals i set for myself, so i’m actually sort of proud of this.

how was your summer? are you ready to go back to school? let me know in the comments.

xo apollo

greenhouse

when i was a child, my family would drive down the gravel road to the greenhouse at the start of every summer. stepping inside the tent was like stumbling upon my own narnia, where it’s always june instead of perpetually winter. the perfume of so many flowers mingled together in the humid air. puddles on the floor reflected back the rainbow of blooms. bugs flitted from plant to plant. the atmosphere made it easy to pretend that i was the goddess demeter and the growing beauty all around me was my own handiwork.

my father would tell my brother and i that we could each pick one plant to bring home. my brother always chose something spiky and blossom-less, such as a serrated-edged, deep purple persian shield or a dark succulent. time after time, i was drawn to the romantic array of cherry, fuchsia, punch-pink, and candy cane geraniums. i always bought one and my brother always got a plant as sharp as his personality. some things are as predictable as the sunrise, and our greenhouse habits are no exception.

when my brother and i placed our special flowers on the counter beside my dad’s box of purchases, the worker would adjust her sin sifter and let us pick out a free marigold. there was a box of fiery blooms in the windowsill, straining for the sun. my brother would claim an orange one and i would choose yellow, and we would hold them in our laps on the ride home and plant them side by side in the yard.

my brother doesn’t care for flowers anymore. our family goes to the greenhouse without him, and i’m allowed as many plants as i would like. the woman behind the counter no longer offers me a marigold.

if we went early enough in the summer, there would be a cage around the back of the greenhouse where they kept easter bunnies. i cupped them in my hands one by one, trembling pompoms with a heartbeat, watching their bubblegum noses twitch and their fur flit around in the breeze. i begged my parents for one — promised that i would make its life heaven on earth, read every book about taking care of rabbits that i could get my hands on — but they never agreed. it’s too much responsibility for you, they said. the cats wouldn’t like them. bunnies are mean, anyway. so i never got a rabbit, and at some point, they got rid of the cages and i never held another easter bunny.

a year or two ago, i went on a walk one dusty, golden evening, and my feet led me down the gravel road to the greenhouse. i paused by the sign announcing the valley’s favorite greenhouse and stared out across the soy fields. birds rustled and sang from the crops and danced duets in the pale sky. the sun-warmed rocks beneath my bare, callused feet became too intense as i stood there, absorbing a picturesque summer sunset in the country, so i scooted off into the grass beside the road. wild strawberries poked up around my toes. a gemstone beetle crawled across a daisy as it continued its steady journey back home.

i have only known creekside junes and julys, spent hunting water snakes on slippery rocks, staining my lips and fingertips with blackberries, biking by myself through corn fields, burning marshmallows in the backyard while watching a shooting star overhead. the ache of every perfect summer i will never experience is eating me alive.

xo apollo