We are a little over three weeks into it and, as much as there is to look forward to, it seems so much has already happened. Such is the way with Summer: the days moving at a pace we don’t fully appreciate or understand. As such, I wanted today’s post to act as a sort of ‘pause’ button for myself so that I could soak in the events and traditions that seem to only come about during the fastest three months of the year. So, without further ado, here are just a few of the highlights in which I aim to steep myself, and I hope you get to do the same.
Every season has it’s highlights in the culinary field, but, for me, the summer months shine the brightest. Be it slurping watermelon in the grass, scooping ice cream in shade or getting as messy as possible picking strawberries with friends. There is a ‘freshness’ with the taste of summer that you can’t find at any other time. Perhaps the pinnacle of it all, however, the apex of seasonal culinary delight, if you will, are those few select weeks when corn on the cob is truly and properly ready for the picking. Whether it’s smothered in butter and salt, covered in lime, parmesan and black pepper, or coated in mayo, paprika, cilantro and citrus, each sweet and juicy kernel brings with it the real tastes and flavours of summer. We wait all year for it to show on road side stands, and when it does our meals are officially planned for the next three weeks. The only real downside to corn on the cob, of course, is the debate it causes on the correct way for consumption: the typewriter, the rolling pin, or the ever-so unpredictable: hunt and peck (the correct way, of course, being the rolling pin). For more on that and how your personality is defined by this particular trait, click here.
The other area of food we simply cannot ignore, of course, is barbecue. It doesn’t matter what it is: beef, pork, chicken, veggies, pizza, or fruit, if you toss it on the grill it is going to taste better and provide the entire neighbourhood with that welcome bouquet of sweet, smokey deliciousness.
Not that we don’t venture outside during the other seasons, but let’s be honest: summer is the best. Aside from sunscreen, there’s no extra gear to put on, the walking is easier and far less trecherous, driving: less stressful, and there are far more people leaving their homes for leisurely reasons.
We like to fill our summers with camping trips, hiking excursions, splash pads and pool parties, but out of all of it, perhaps the most enjoyable activity for us is the post-dinner walk. That time hovering around dusk when things slow down, the tourist have left, and the humidity has finally broken. Alison and I will often use this time to grant each other a little reprieve from the day, taking turns to venture out alone and reconcile the events of the day and breath in the evening air in peace. It’s a beautiful way to cap off a day of paddling, or ‘whatever’.
The potential for activities are limitless and we love watching the kids build forts in the woods, climb all of the trees and go biking or scootering around town. We did our first family 10K bike ride just the other weekend; Audrey was so proud of her accomplishments and we felt it too. So, I guess what I’m saying is: stop reading this (but please come back another day) and get outside!
We are lucky to be in a position to see and visit most our friends year-round, but during the summer, the event becomes a little less stressful for everyone; likely because there’s less pressure to clean your house in a way that suggests your house is always that clean. Instead, it’s a gathering on the deck or in a park with a pot luck menu, a frisbee, a few Hip songs on the guitar, and couple of cold pops. It’s a relaxing visit for everyone.
While we get to see most of our closest loved ones the other 10 months, it’s during these summer months that we tend to see the those we may not during the hibernation period: those that come from just a little bit farther than our county borders. We catch up on all the happenings over the past year; see how tall the kids have gotten, what new job prospects might be on the table, and wash away the sadness of the absence felt for many months. We do this because it becomes easier to travel greater distances, or even meet halfway somewhere. People are more inclined to take their vacations so have more ‘free-time’ (which is an obvious sign that we need to strike better balance with more vacation days in our work culture), and the options for what we do are just that much grander.
Aside from friends and family, I feel a kindness in strangers that is slightly different than other seasons. Maybe it’s the added dose of vitamin d or the fact they aren’t recovering from a post-shovelling pinched nerve, but the public generally seems a little bit less annoyed with one another.
Yes, the summer flies by as a whole, but when you break down the parts that make it up, it moves at a much more enjoyable pace. It does for me at least. There is always so much to look forward to, but when I stop spending my valuable brain-space on thoughts of tomorrow, I get to enjoy today for what it is. I don’t feel rushed to get through the fun. Whether it’s slow-smoking a brisket, taking in a Jays game or tending to the vegetable garden, each of these things take precisely the amount of time they need to and cannot be rushed; a beautiful reminder of how we should live our lives.
If you would like to attempt an activity that celebrates the true exercise of taking ones time while enjoying the joys of summer, I highly recommend finding yourself an inflatable tube and a couple of early morning hours to plunk yourself into the grand river for a float downstream. The water will take you where it wants you to go at exactly the speed it feels and, provided you are willing to turn yourself over to the art of relaxation, once you step out of the river you’ll find yourself spending the remainder of your day moving in much the same way.
Whatever traditions, feasts or activities you might find yourselves involved in today, I hope that, at the very least, it can involve the outdoors, some good company and a little bit of extra time.