Summer Lists

I love, love, love summer. I really do. In some ways, I think I even loved it more, or at least appreciated it more when I lived in Chicago, because the season was, in my opinion, short-lived. This is one of many reasons why I love living in Carolina now. Here by the coast, I like to say they basically got rid of winter and doubled the summer. This suits me well.

In Chicago, one of the things I did to help make the most of the season was to develop a list of simple things to do early on in the summer to mark the beginning of the season. Anything on the list could and usually was done more than once, but the idea was to do everything at least once early on, as a celebration of sorts.

My list would include things like:

  1. Make a glass pitcher of pink lemonade and drink it outside (one glass at a time, for clarification here).
  2. Swing on the front porch swing in the morning with a cup of coffee, in the afternoon with the aforementioned glass of pink lemonade, and in the evening with a glass of wine.
  3. Fall asleep on the hammock out back. Drifting in and out of sleep is also wonderful, but doesn’t count. You must completely let go, fall asleep, and wake slowly to the sounds of nature around you. (This one had to be done when Loquacious Cabana Boy wasn’t around, because I don’t consider waking to the sound of his voice, as entertaining as it is, to be the same thing as waking to the sounds of nature.)
  4. Add a pop of annuals to the already existing ones, somewhere that might be considered a bit extravagant. I usually planted my annuals the first week of May, but then I liked to go back in June, after I planted all the necessary (necessary being loosely-defined here) flowers in pots and flower beds, and add a few to nooks and crannies around the yard that just felt a little over-the-top-in-a-good-way to me.
  5. Find at least one really-engrossing book and sit up late into the night reading, long after most of the world is asleep.
  6. Make and eat homemade juice popsicles.
  7. Buy one pack of ice cream cones. Normally, I consider the cones a luxury not worth their extra calories, but as a one-time thing, I’d buy a pack for us so we could make and eat ice cream cones at home.
  8. Sit or lie in the grass. This may sound silly, but I spent so much outdoor time on my front porch or my back deck, that the feel and smell of sitting or lying right in the grass, running my hands over the tips of the blades, was euphoric.
  9. Hug a tree. You heard me correctly. This was simply a nod to the Anne of Green Gables books that filled my girlhood. This also had to be done covertly, because, had my husband witnessed one of the hugs (and I only did one per year because honestly, this felt equal parts nostalgic and deeply strange) he would have fallen on the ground in deep spasmodic laughs that likely would have ruptured his gut.

So, how about you? What summer rituals, little or big, do you celebrate the season with every year? I’d love to hear your ideas, which might inspire me to start a new list, the Carolina version of my Chicago summer list.

I’d also love to start a list for the small people, one that might include some of the things mentioned above but that would also include things tailored to children. Any ideas?

17 Comment

  1. For my little people, they would tell you they get new beach toys every May. We live at the beach and spend many days there, especially in the “off-season”. Our beach toys get decimated over the course of 10 months of beach life. Every May they get a small amount of money and we make a trip to the dollar store or whoever is having a great sale on beach toys. They get to stock up on them for the next beach season.

    1. Oh, I like that idea. We love dollar store toys, but tend to buy them sporadically. I like the idea of making it an official “beginning of summer” event, which sounds a lot more exciting than “Let’s go replace your broken shovel.” I’m adding it.

  2. Monica says: Reply

    Love your list! In Hawaii it seems like summer blends a bit too much with the rest of the year–but no reason we couldn’t kick it off more officially. We do have some traditions when the (home) school year is over, many of us meet at a certain beach each Tuesday morning, etc…
    I’m in Washington now visiting family, so I definitely see the season beginning. Everyone is getting boats in the water and looking SO ready for the sun. (it’s not out much yet ;))
    Keep up the list, great idea.
    monica

    1. The first boat ride of the summer is definitely a thrill and a cause for celebration. And any of the things you can do during the summer that you can’t do during the school year because of time and schedules are always fun. How about sleeping in until you wake up naturally the first morning after school’s over? It’s fun to watch my kids sleep in the first morning of summer vacation every year.

  3. Kat says: Reply

    I know that when we were younger, Mom brought us to the beach/pool all the time, but one day of the week was dedicated to a specific group of friends/moms/beach locale. It was just lovely.

    1. Hmm, I’d love to have a summer group with a regular get-together time and location. That sounds wonderful.

  4. ohmigosh, Island Mom, I love this idea! I’m gonna substitute iced tea with mint for the lemonade, though. And I don’t have a hammock, but I do have a swing, and my treasured Adirondack chair. I eat ice cream about 340 days a year 🙂 but in summer we like to change it up with lava flows, and reminisce about our trip to Kauai. And my “start” to the season is to put away the “everyday” dishes, and get out the beach-themed dishes I splurged on a few years ago. Thanks so much for sharing, everyone!

    1. I absolutely love the idea of beach-themed dishes that you use in place of the regular dishes for the summer season. That’s great! I’ve seen people use special dishes for outdoors in summer, but I like the idea of trading out your regular dishes for these. It’s kind of like switching out the seasonal clothes in your closet. I have a friend who has a “summer” comforter for her bed, and I’ve always wanted to do that, too. Thanks for the idea!

    2. Oh, I love this idea of changing out the dishes. Thanks for the tip.

  5. I spent most of my summer days at the pool at our park as a kid. By my teen years, that morphed into sitting on a friend’s parent’s boat in the marina all day. Lazy days, for sure. We seem to kick-off summer with a big purchase of crafts to do on rainy days, and by rotating our summer gear like bats, bikes, boards, etc. to the forefront, and storing the winter gear like skis, snowshoes, etc. in the rafters of the garage. We spend our “home” days in the yard or street playing wiffle ball, street hockey, or building forts. We do try to get to the beach several days each week, and have a weekly “town” day for getting to the library.

    1. Oh! I almost forgot–we have a “Welcome (fill in the season)” party in which we do a family outdoor activity and cap it off with a seasonal treat. (Doughnuts & cider in the fall, hot chocolate & marshmallows in the winter, ice cream cones in the summer, and the like.)

      1. Love this one!

    2. Island Mom says: Reply

      I like the idea of rainy day crafts as a summer tradition. I tend to pick up crafts more in the winter time for the kids, but I like the idea of having some special ones for summer too. In fact, sometimes, we have so many beach days in a row that we just need a break for a day so that we can appreciate the beach again when we go back outside.

      Sadly, we gave up most of our winter gear when we moved here. It’s hard to justify keeping skis when it only snows once every few years on average!

  6. Chris says: Reply

    I have a summer list in my head too. And this time of the summer I always feel a bit panicked about not REALLY enjoying summer to the fullest because of how quickly these three months go by in Michigan. What if I just go along day by day running errands and cleaning my house and all of a sudden it’s SEPTEMBER!? Heaven forbid. That horrible thought keeps me to my summer list. My list looks a lot like yours – a good book, cold drinks. I try to make homemade ice cream once a summer (only I cheat by using the electric ice cream maker and not the hand crank one that we took turns cranking by the lake growing up, did it taste better because of all the hard work? I think so.) Go to Grand Haven, play on the beach and walk the boardwalk. Make strawberry rhubarb crisp. Go to a farmers market. Plant fresh herbs in my garden. Go to an art fair at one of our lakes shore towns. Always have fresh flowers from my garden in my house. And spend as much time as possible with my extended family by the little lake where I grew up. I love seeing my daughter enjoying the same swing set, putting her toes in the same creek that I did when I was little.

    1. Well, clearly I should have had you guest post for this one! Yes, I think
      that fear of not fully “seizing the day” when it came to summer was part of
      what inspired me to start my list. I learned early on that it was even okay
      to complete the whole list in the first week or two of summer, and then
      repeat “as the spirit moved” for the rest of the summer. That way, I knew I
      had at least done everything once.

  7. Carolyn says: Reply

    I really love this list. Our family’s summer kickoff would not apply to you at the beach, but we lived for years in the Catskill Mountains, and had a major stream running by our property. It was too rough (whitewater) for the children when they were small, so I went with them to swim every afternoon. Fortunately for us, a side stream entered the main one right by our lower field, and over the years we had built a fabulous swimming hole there. But every year the dam had to repaired. Summer really started when we spent two or three days stacking big rocks to make the swimming hole deeper. It was a real picnic time with fresh-picked berries and ice cream.

    1. That sounds heavenly, especially at this time of the year when it’s really hot in Carolina by the coast, and the mountains seem like an oasis. I like the community aspect of this idea too. Plus, you turned it into an “event” with the berries and ice cream. Fabulous idea! Now, how do I build a dam in the Atlantic?? 🙂

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