Summer is a-comin, folks!
Wait…what? It’s HERE already? Shoot.
Every year summer bursts in full of promise and the memories of years gone by when its sun-soaked days and lively nights were the definition of ultimate freedom. Year after year – once I get all the seething bitterness and resentment toward students and teachers who still get summer breaks out of my system – I tell myself that this is going to be my summer, I am going to make the most of this summer and relive the spirit of summer from my childhood, I am going to do all the summer-y stuff I can possibly cram into my days.
And then every year it just passes me by in a big mass of humidity and slow work days occasionally interrupted by a festival or camping trip.
Well, here we are at the dawn of another summer and 2014 is giving me a chance to finally fulfill that promise.
I already do have a lot of cool stuff going on this summer. We’re going camping at Devil’s Lake over 4th of July weekend. I’m running two half marathons and at least 1 5K. We’re trying to plan a weekend trip to Chicago, although it’s possible that it might not materialize this summer. We’ll have visits from mine and Kevin’s families. We’ll go to the farmer’s market every Saturday we can.
I try so hard to avoid list-ifying everything (lists can be great and everything, but you have to admit that the overpopulation of lists on the internet – especially the ones geared at millennials – is an obnoxious trend). But after reading blog posts about things people want to do this summer, it’s made me think about all the things I would love to do this summer. Who knows, maybe listing out all the things I want to do this summer will help remind me to actually do them?
So, I caved and made a Summer Bucket List.
Watch the sun rise over Lake Michigan
I live a mile away from it and run by it all the time, so it’s a damn shame I haven’t made this happen in the almost-3 years I’ve lived in this town. This is yet another thing I really wanted to do last summer but it never happened. Probably because of the insane difficulty level of getting my butt out of bed that early on any given morning. But I have hope this year because I’m doing really well with my Sleepless in June challenge so maybe that will make waking up before sunrise…well…a little less hard?
I would like to do this in multiple locations: on the south shore, near my house, and at the lovely Atwater Park on the north shore, just to start!
Go kayaking on the Milwaukee river
I did this in the summer of 2012 with my Habitat AmeriCorps group as a farewell bonding day one Friday, and I thought I would hate it (not a big boat person), but I ended up having a blast and I’ve wanted to do it again so badly. It’s such a great way to explore our city and see all of its neighborhoods and architecture from an angle you can’t normally see it. And it’s a great workout!
See a couple summer movies
In last summer’s Oprah magazine, there was a suggestion for summer flicks to see as part of a feature about ways to make summer fun. I was instantly attracted to that idea even though it’s not one of the first things that pops into your head when you think about summer. Movies? You can do that all year!
But I love the idea of the idea of topping off a hot, active day by escaping the muggy night to sink into a seat in a cool dark theater and lose myself in a film. Despite wanting to do this ALL last summer, I never did. Hopefully I will get around to it this year! Better look up some movies that are coming out!
Camping at Devil’s Lake
OH WAIT I’M ALREADY DOING THIS! Yesssssss. We camped at Devil’s Lake last year and I was so sad to leave that I felt like a kid on the last day of summer camp. I can’t wait to go again this year – on 4th of July weekend! I had to reserve that puppy back in August (sites at Devil’s Lake fill up ridiculously fast, even on a non holiday weekend. And people think Americans don’t like the outdoors!), but it was worth it. Hiking the bluffs, watching fireworks in Baraboo, s’mores….mmmm…
Actually, though, I do want to do more camping this summer. Last summer we went twice – to Devil’s Lake and to Governor Dodge State Park – and I really liked it. I hope we can go more than just twice before summer is over and explore some new parks, even if we have to do some day trip only visits. And of course, hot dogs and s’mores. Every time.
I am an evening runner, and summer gives me a great excuse to make the switch to morning running. The release I get from running after a long day at work suddenly doesn’t seem so appealing when it’s 87 degrees and the humidity is so thick I can practically see it in the air.
I hope to get into the habit of lacing up in the wee hours and getting my weekday training runs in before the temperature spikes. Finally, I will know what so many people mean when they preach about the peacefulness and productivity boosts they get from morning runs!
Milwaukee summer staples: Chill on the Hill, Koss Lunar Series, Bay View Farmer’s Market, Street Festivals
As a Milwaukeean, “Summerfest” should probably be at the top of this list, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I usually skip it. I don’t love crowds and overpriced food and drinks, so unless there’s a band I want to see (or I get a free ticket from running the Rock and Sole race), I can take it or leave it.
What I live for are the smaller things, the weeklies, the little gems that, altogether, add up to something that really makes summers in Milwaukee so rich.
Chill on the Hill brings free live music to Humboldt Park – two blocks from my house – every Tuesday evening. Here is a chance to relax and, well, chill out, that is almost literally right in my backyard every week! (well, geographically speaking it would be more like front yard, but you get the idea.)
Can you believe I’ve lived in Milwaukee almost three years and I have yet to be to one of its famous ethnic festivals? That’s right, two full summers here with no German fest, Italian fest, Bastille Days, Polish fest….nada. That’s got to change this year! Especially since, given that my Rock and Sole fee came with a free ticket to Polish fest, I really have no reason not to go to at least one of these.
I also want to try out the Koss Lunar Series this year, which brings live music to the rooftop of the Milwaukee Athletic Club every Friday evening. Summer is THE time of year to enjoy some time under the night sky – add in some drinks, tunes, good company, and height (studies show that being higher up actually makes people feel good!) and you’ve got one stellar (hehe) way to kick off your weekend!
And of course, rarely will I let a Saturday morning get by me without hitting up our neighborhood farmer’s market in Bay View. Kevin and I went as often as we could last summer and we love it there. First we’d each grab an 85 cent cup of coffee from the Sven’s Cafe stand and work our way through throngs of couples, families, children, and golden retrievers to get the best produce we could find, then plop down on the grass with our muffins from Wild Flour Bakery and enjoy people watching and a gorgeous view of the south shore. If I don’t spend a Saturday morning at the Bay View Farmer’s Market, I’m not doing it right.
Don’t hate, appreciate
Did you ever notice that the people who are so vocal about being sooo excited for summer are the same ones who can’t even get to the end of July before they start talking about how they can’t wait for pumpkin lattes and scarves and football season? Don’t get me wrong, I love those things too. But it makes me sad that we get excited and wait so long for summer only once it’s actually here, we don’t appreciate it. We barely let it have a chance before we are impatiently waiting for the next season.
The reason I made this list isn’t just for the sake of it. It’s because I want it to help me make the most of summer this year. When I was a kid, summers were these magical times and I soaked up every minute. I don’t have that child-like freedom to do as much as I want this summer (waaahhh!!), but I still want to make the most of this fleeting time and make the summer of 2014 the best it can be. Instead of constantly waiting for the next big thing, I want to stay in the moment this season and appreciate the good ol’ summertime while it lasts.
What about you? What are your summer plans? How are you going to make the most of this summer before it’s gone?