The official start of summer is still a little ways off, but it FEELS like summer in the mountains of North Carolina right now. The days are warm and humid, but not that sticky hot of August. Evenings and mornings are refreshingly cool and rain showers often pop up in the afternoons. Plus, the world feels GREEN right now! Nature is absolutely exploding in a joyous riot of lush growth.
So, how to celebrate summer Appalachian-style? Well, here are seven suggestions.
- Catch lightning bugs. Or, fireflies if you prefer. Get a mason jar, poke holes in the metal lid, and catching a dozen or so of the luminous bugs. Set the jar on the dresser in your bedroom to watch them flicker until you fall asleep. Then, first thing in the morning, release them while the dew is still on the lawn.
- And speaking of dewy lawns–go barefoot! Lush, green grass is the best option here. Preferably a lawn that was mowed two days ago. The cool of the morning or the evening are best, in my opinion. Plus, it seems fewer bugs are about then. Wiggle your toes and laugh.
- And speaking of bare feet–go wading! Find a shallow creek (crick) or bold stream and dip your toes in that icy flow. We loved to “rock hop” when we were kids. The idea was to see how far you could go without getting your feet wet. Of course, the real goal, was to get as much of ourselves wet as possible. And catch crawdads.
- Sit on the porch of an evening. Ideally, you’ll have a porch swing to keep in motion with one lazy foot, but a rocking chair or even those old, webbed lawn chairs work. If you don’t have a chair, sit on the porch steps. If you talk, it should be aimless talk and stories you’ve heard a dozen times before. At some point, someone should say, “Tell the one about . . .”
- Churn ice cream. We have an old-fashioned hand-cranked churn. This is by FAR the best, but you can use an electric churn or even an ice cream maker if you must. The important thing is to gather friends and family around who will wait impatiently for the ice cream to “make” and then fight good naturedly over who gets to lick the dasher. For heaven’s sake don’t put the ice cream in the freezer to harden. Eat it immediately like soft serve.
- Cook hot dogs on a stick over an open fire. Someone should go to the edge of the woods and cut some branches with a pocket knife, then sharpen the ends. There has to be at least one kid who burns his hot dog, complains, feeds it to the dog, and then eats the hot dog his mom patiently roasted to perfection
- Lay on a blanket in the yard. You can lay out there during the day and look for shapes in the clouds. You can also lay out there at night and watch for shooting stars. For heaven’s sake NO SUNBATHING. You’ll get plenty of sun when you’re working in the garden. This is time to look away from earth–away from the every day–and to remember that while you’re small in relation to the universe, summer is a gift that’s given to you again and again and again.