The magic of summer.

July is when summer has truly come into its own, and back-to-school seems blissfully far off and the only thing we’re really holding ourselves accountable for is making sure we’re having fun.

What can I say? We seem to have our summery priorities straight.

We are knee-deep in baseball watching and barefoot being and lemonade stand arranging and marshmallow charring and raspberry picking and Draper Days dreaming, and our favorite: tree house sleeping.

Our tree house is my kids’ own place, and in it–under a canopy of leaves that shield them from the world–they are content and independent, with tricks up their sleeves and secrets and plans. They have adventures up there, and look out for one another even at three in the morning, without a thought to call for their parents, who are an open bedroom window, and a “10-4, good buddy” on the blue walkie-talkie, away.

There’s an almost ritual that has established itself, before they sleep in the treehouse. They are uncharacteristically solicitous to one another, and help each other gather flashlights and books and blankets and things for the night. I play the part of mother hen clucking softly over her chicks, cozying them in, blanket upon blanket, and the cats find us and tuck themselves in sleeping bag crevasses, filling up the in between spaces. I climb up with cocoa and a bedtime snack and we whisper away the minutes until I’ve been up there with them, just chatting, until almost midnight. Something seems simpler up there, and I wonder why this unhurried, patient goodnight scene never plays out in our house.

The truth is this scene could never play out in our house, and not just because the cats aren’t allowed inside.

There’s something about the lawlessness of the tree house. It’s an almost sacred kid-run space, a place beyond the rules of bedtime, a place decorum can’t touch and moms don’t get grouchy past 10 p.m.

That’s the whole magic of it.

Maybe that’s the whole magic of summer in general—that the things responsible adults don’t normally allow “in the house” or have room for in a structured life suddenly seem to be the very things that are non-negotiable.

And in a way, that’s what we celebrate in this issue:

Draper Days and pie–nay, the study of pie; a party dedicated to the eating of ice cream; an ultimate tree house built by boards and dreams; a parade to anticipate, then slow down and sit and appreciate; perfect parks for days; a getaway for the daring. All in all, the good stuff summer is made of, the fun stuff, the stuff that makes us, the grown-ups, act like kids again.

(That alone is magical.)

Hope your summer is fun and full of all the things that make you happy—and that you’ve caught some of your own glimpses of magic too.

I bet you have.