Since January, we’d been waiting for summer.
It arrived on Memorial Day weekend. And the rituals, along with a dose of pandemonium, are under way.
The scent of charcoal smoke is on the breeze. Shorts and sandals emerge after a long hibernation at the bottom of closets. You can hear the voices of children playing outside through the last slivers of daylight. Lightning bugs punctuate the darkness. Then come the camps. Day camps, sports camps, art camps, vacation Bible schools. Maybe a church event, perhaps a homecoming or revival. July the Fourth. Ice cream. Fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, corn. Cookouts. Pool parties. Beach trips. Braves baseball.
A doldrums of the weeks before school starts again when every mom I know is past the point of losing patience.
And then, after the mad scurry, suddenly – it ends.
That seems to be the way it goes every summer, especially the older one gets, doesn’t it?
We make a rush of a time meant to be relaxing.
And, trust me, I don’t say this as a cold critic or one who is completely immune.
At the end of summer, I generally find myself bemoaning all the things I wanted to do, but didn’t. With that said, this year, I have written a summer bucket list to make sure I do not find myself in that state of mind again.
1. Make homemade ice cream: Growing up, this was a tradition in my family. My parents loved to set our loud rock salt-laden maker on the porch and my grandparents even had a hand-cranked one. My wife and I half-heartedly carried the tradition on for a few years before fizzling out last summer. But this summer I am aiming for not one, but at least two bouts of homemade ice cream.
2. Wade in a stream: My family usually goes to Callaway Gardens at least once a summer and, though I don’t swim, I will dip my feet in Robin Lake. But finding a good stream to wade your feet in is something I miss. I have a couple of fishing spots I’ve discovered here and there, but the key is to find the right amount of depth and current. When you do, there are few things as simply sublime.
3. The non-contact sports: Last year I played horseshoes for the first time at, ironically, an end-of-summer party. I tossed a few games – or is it matches? – and found it to my liking. Why? Well, I don’t really care for croquet or golf. Secondly, you can play horseshoes with a drink in your hand and wear about anything you dadgum want to. (I prefer a Larry Bird T-shirt, seersucker shorts and a straw hat.) I might also give badminton another try. I played it when I was a child with my brother and cousins at my grandparents’ home and I harbor fond memories of racing back and forth on the thick zoysia grass, trying to hit the shuttlecock while not getting blinded by the sun. Tennis is in the mix too. As long as it doesn’t bode for broken bones, I am game.
4. Moonlight hike: When I was in my teens and early 20s, I frequently took midnight bike rides. It might sound foolhardy, but if you lived in the right place and knew which vacated roads to ride, it was a rush. I’ve passed the point of nighttime bike rides, but hope to take my son on a moonlight hike. There are few adventures as ethereal to remind one of the greatness of the universe.
5. Fix a fun drink: Folks use summertime as an excuse to make all sorts of interesting drinks. Sun tea, crazy concoctions of Kool-Aid, iced tea with a kick, Coke floats and more. I’ve been re-reading “Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread, & Scuppernong Wine: The Folklore and Art of Southern Appalachian Cooking” by my friend Joe Dabney and discovered some great old-timey recipes in there. I think I will pass on the Sumac wine and the Peach Beer, but might give some of the elderberry wines or brandies a shot. (As an aside, if you haven’t read Joe’s masterpiece, I strongly encourage it. It is a prime place to find great recipes and engaging stories.)
So there’s mine. What about you? Have you got a bucket list? If not, I encourage you to make one and if you have any suggestions for me, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great summer.
Mark Wallace Maguire is the director of Cobb Life Magazine and the Cobb Business Journal. He is an occasional columnist for the Neighbor.