Summer’s Fun, Lazy, Hazy Days: Don’t Take the Season for Granted

Who can think of having fun when we’re worried about Supreme Court decisions, random shootings, the continuing war in Ukraine, rents going up, interest rates rising, the stock market’s ups and downs? You get the drift? It’s easy to remain discouraged.  

However, let’s shift gears fast. Why let gloom and doom dictate our daily routines. We can’t control what’s going on in the world. So, as the weather heats up, it’s time for some balance and outright joy. 

Summer seems a short season. One minute it’s here and everything is blooming gorgeously and the tomatoes at the farmer’s market are big and juicy, it’s hot and we’re sweaty. We venture out to play pickleball or canoe, and before we know it, the temperature of the ocean or lake water is starting to get colder. This signals fall is on its way. As we wrote in last week’s blog, time flies.

Follow us. We’re grabbing the summer moments and starting to take advantage of its pleasures of longer days, bluer skies, warmer sun and wonderful fresh produce.

We suggest you plan some activities that you only do in summer unless you’re lucky to get away in winter to a warm climate, or you live in one year-round. Our list of 14 ideas may tempt you; you add yours, please.

Get to a beach. It doesn’t have to be far away. Public beaches can be wonderful whether it’s the one by Lake Tightknit State Park near Barbara’s upstate New York home or Jones Beach State Park in Nassau County, not far from Margaret’s New York City apartment. Bring a chair, umbrella if not a sun goddess, towel, sunscreen, hat, good book, picnic and enjoy the day. Be sure to cool off by jumping into the water or at least dipping in your toes. And why not try some sandcastle building, even if you’re not a kid or architect.

Go to a new farmer’s market. They’re all over the place. Bring a basket so you can load up on fresh fruit, cheeses, vegetables, and don’t compare prices to the supermarket. You’re supporting farmers and sustainability.

Plant some flowers, herbs and vegetables. If you don’t have a yard or balcony, get involved in a group in your community. Margaret recently joined a rooftop gardening group and is learning how to plant certain veggies and herbs. Among the tips she’s mastered are how to plant the seeds, which is specific to each herb or vegetable, the amount to water, which sun exposure is best for which plant and the importance of weeding. She has a lot more to learn; the club continues until the end of August. And the bonus is that she gets to take home fresh herbs and vegetables that she cannot grow in her small apartment with no outdoor space. Barbara loves her perennial gardens; her bete noir is the poison ivy. Wear gloves and wash your hands well after working, she advises. 

Enjoy a meal outdoors. Barbara has one friend who loves to eat outside, whether on her deck, at restaurants in her area or Florida or almost anywhere. Be sure again to bring sunscreen, wear a hat and get those yearly or regular all-body freckle checks. And though it’s only dessert, if you have a yard or camper, invest in a small Solo stove which you can take with you on outings, along with the fixings for s’mores. 

Bring summer indoors. Open any curtains wide, roll up your shades, wash your windows so they sparkle and let in the sunlight, switch out pillows to more colorful hues and patterns, put some flowers in a vase or line up herbs on your windowsill. 

Think summer meals. Forget the heavy roasts, stews, casseroles. Fire up the barbecue and learn to grill fish well—it’s a skill, think salads, maybe, get a pizza maker you leave outdoors, brew some iced tea and make fresh lemonade, serve watermelon for dessert cut up in different shapes. Maybe you even grow a lemon tree and have fresh lemons at your disposal. Bake that great Fourth of July cake with a top that resembles the American Flag. In fact, fly a flag for Flag Day and the season. And listen for the herdy-gerdy jingle of the ice-cream truck. Barbara’s older grandsons love their Miss Twist who comes by in the early evening even though the music they grind out on their trucks can grate on nerves. Chuck it up to the sounds of summer.

Head to an ice-cream shop. Some are closed part of the year, at least one with unusual flavors such as lemon with poppyseeds is, which is shuttered in winter in Barbara’s hood. She made a beeline to it when it opened this month. She also has a soft-serve place she orders from—yes, a twist with chocolate sprinkles, please. Indulge, you don’t have to do so regularly but a few times each summer is worth it. If you’re lactose intolerant, many offer options. 

Attend a baseball game or two. It’s America’s favorite pastime. And if you live in a place with a national team, great. But there are minor leagues, and you can always watch a good college or high school game, too. Summer is baseball season with the smell of hot dogs and the iconic sounds from the pop of the ball on the bat to the singing of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” This is summer at its finest. 

Consider going to a free concert or outdoor movie night. Free outside activities abound in the summer. Take advantage of the offerings on those warm sultry nights. Check your local listings. 

Change your wardrobe. Bring out the shorts and tank tops, if you can wear them, the capri pants and polo shirts, cotton skirts and light and breezy long, midi or mini dresses, caps, sun visors, straw hats and purses, open-toe sandals, ballet shoes and flip flops, bathing suits and coverups  It’s time to shed the heavy outerwear and feel free and easy. If eating indoors, bring along a sweater or jacket for the air conditioning, which may be blasted. 

Exercise outdoors. You don’t have to be a super athlete to enjoy activity in warm weather, from longer walks to jumping rope, yoga en plein air, a swim, playing tennis or pickleball, flying a kite, taking a boat ride in a canoe or kayak or sailboat or playing croquet. More adventuresome? Maybe, it’s time for a hike—don’t forget your compass, bug spray, long sleeves and pants, socks, a hat. More adventuresome? Consider some bungee jumping or a zip line but don’t invite us.

Read lighter. Put away those heavy serious tomes and try something lighter. Barbara recently bought the late Lori Zabar’s book on her family business, Zabar’s, which includes recipes for its iconic black and white cookies and more. And bring that book, newspaper or stack of fun magazines outdoors to a bench in a nearby park or wicker chaise in your yard. 

Set up a hammock. Just chill and enjoy being in nature. Grab an ice-cold beer, tune into some soothing jazz, light classics or pop tunes about the “lazy hazy days of summer” as in the song by Nat King Cole. Invest in a good water bottle rather than use plastic, which hurts our ocean and fish. 

Hit the links. For all those golf aficionados—and there are many more again with the ramp up of Covid since it’s a good activity for keeping your distance. Summer is your season to drive, putt and par to your heart’s content on one of this country’s many picturesque and splendid public and private golf courses. Don’t forget miniature golf, too, for some old-fashioned fun for the entire family. 

Summer is synonymous with kicking back and giving yourself a much-deserved break. Chill in the heat, destress and enjoy yourself before the leaves start falling once again. 

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