Summering on the Suncoast – Summer Must Haves

There are certain smells, sounds, tastes, and moments that belong only to summer.  Even for those living in Florida, never really getting to experience four distinct seasons and often feeling like every day is like summer, the actual season of summer is special.  Maybe it is because, as kids it meant freedom from the rigors of school.   When that last school bell rang, it was on to sleeping in late, reconnecting with morning television (pre-Internet) and racking up the miles on the 10-speed.  It was eating watermelon on a hot day and staving off the nighttime heaviness with a refreshing swim in the lake.  And as summer concluded and thoughts of school took over, there was always a feeling of contentment looking back at all that had been done and a bit of sadness that all your summer freedom had to be packed away in favor of schedules.

To me, there are five must-haves before summer is officially over.  They are not acquisitions, as much as boxes that have to be delightfully checked off in order to move on to fall.  Even in these odd times of quarantine and lack of gathering with family and friends it is crucial to hang on to what provides us contentment and makes us whole.  Here are my five favorite elements to a successful summer:

Visiting the Beach

Summer at the beach

Given we live in Florida, this used to be something many of us did often.  In the present times, it isn’t a place we are really visiting.  But doing it upright, complete with packed cooler, chairs and towels for comfort, a ball to throw, and enough time and energy to play in the surf is mandatory.  Coming home with sun-kissed skin and feeling exhausted is just part of the fun.  Smelling the salty air in your air before the shower and finding sand remnants in your car are the after-gifts. 

Other Summer Must Haves

Summer at summer gardens

Ice Cream for Dinner. At least once a summer, it is just smart to take a night off from cooking in the evening.  Delight the troops, and announce the dinner menu consists of any kind of ice cream they can dream up.  Chances are nobody is going to complain, and you can get your ice cream fix taken care of in a major way.

Streamline and Organize. There is no better time than summer, when heavy “anything” just feels like too much, to purge or donate excess items.  Shedding literal baggage just brings a fresh perspective.  And, many times, cleaning out excess “stuff” frees up more living space, especially on porches and patios where a nice sit-under-a-summer-sky is just what you need.

Step it up. Taking advantage of the long summer daylight hours is perfect for getting those extra walks in.  Though we may all have over-walked our dogs during quarantine, chances are those outdoor times have slacked off due to work schedules and reclaimed obligations.  Perhaps the pounds have snuck back on, or is that just me?  Anyhow, no matter, the rest of summer can help with that, minus that one ice cream dinner, of course.

Last But Not Least in Summer Must Haves

Summer Gardens. Summers in Michigan meant fresh produce was around for just a short time.  Here in Florida we are treated to that goodness all year-round.  Yet, growing a garden in the summer seems like such a good way for a family to spend time together and a definite summer must-do.  Though the project has diminished from an entire family production to just me and my husband these days, we enjoy the tasks associated with summer gardening and love to cook with our tiny harvest.  This year we have grown the makings for a great salsa, plus some carrots and an assortment of herbs.  Once school begins and activities somewhat march on, the garden will lack our attention, and everything will wither.  But for now, our natural patch of summer goodness is green and abundant, just another pleasure of summertime.

Photos courtesy of Jodi Schwarzenbach

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