I live in a vacation area near the mountains. During three-quarters of the year, our area is pretty cold and dark. The warm, sunny summer months last only a short time, but this is in some ways a good thing. We embrace summer with gusto here! We know it is fleeting, and so we live in the moment and enjoy ourselves heartily.
This year, my family’s summer bucket list has several things on it:
Time to run in the sun! In our valley area, we experience inversions through much of the cold months. This means lots of cold, dark days. When the sun comes out, we try to take advantage of it! Many people spend most of their day outside in the summer. I like to let my kids run around the backyard (why are kids always happier outside?) while I lean back in a lawn chair and catch up on a good book. They make believe, play in the sandbox, dig in the dirt, practice batting off a tee, and just have an all-around great time.
Time to play with friends (grown-ups and kids included). This year, I’m looking forward to finding lots of ways to play with friends. Whether that means getting together with families for BBQs or going on a group hike or meeting for a playdate in the park or spending an afternoon splashing at the lake, there is nothing like those unhurried moments together when your kids are playing happily together and there’s time for a heart-to-heart with a fellow mom.
Time for beauty. The hurried days of the school year sure make it hard to stop and smell the roses. Everything is about functioning on a tight, unrelenting schedule and getting tasks done. But one of the best parts about summer is that there is time for beauty. Sometimes this means going to the beach and breathing in that saltwater air. Sometimes it means time for our kids at creative summer camps. Sometimes its booking that visit to your favorite national park.
For us, our area hosts many arts festivals over the course of the summer. We love wandering around these events, kettle corn in hand, enjoying panoramic photography, pottery, handmade toys, paintings, handmade jewelry, and quirky folk art. The other way we appreciate beauty in the summer is by attending our professional repertory musical theatre at least once. We love seeing professional actors doing what they do well. Not only is it a great date night, but it’s also a great experience to share with our kids.
- Time for knowledge. The school year is the time to focus on learning the basics (like learning your scales on a musical instrument), but the summer is the time to riff. It’s freedom to explore interests and to make more time for reading, learning, art, and exploration. We try to participate in our library’s summer reading program, but even more than that, we try to visit the library at least once a week. Libraries today are not quite the “be seen and not heard” places of our childhood anymore. Often, they have programs for all ages, good quality creative toys, and friendly librarians who actually like kids. They are such wonderful places to learn and explore.
When we can, we also like to take time in the summer to visit museums. Science, art, history, and children’s museums are often very kid-friendly and provide great opportunities to learn and grow. If money is tight, most museums have free days regularly.
- Time to slow down and enjoy good food. The summer is a time of bounty. It is a time not only of good food, but also the time to cook it. One of our favorite summer activities is visiting a farmer’s market—sometimes just to look around, but also to buy good quality local produce. You can usually buy honey, eggs, meat, and flowers at a farmer’s market too. Even more fun is to bring your bounty home and prepare it together with your kids. We also love to visit our favorite local ice cream shop once or twice a week and order tasty cones of salty caramel, huckleberry, chocolate. Since we, like most folks in our area, don’t have air conditioning, it gets too hot to start the oven in the summer, and we want to be outside anyway, so we fire up the BBQ grill and eat on our patio.
By Rebecca Miller, Kudoso Kontributor