It is officially summer and it actually feels like summer! Of course, it is Seattle so we may be back to cool and rainy at any moment! With the school days behind us and summer stretching out in front of us we have an opportunity to be outside more and more. The sunshine pulls us out of the house and into nature. Some days it is nice to just lay in the yard and enjoy a quiet moment looking at the clouds. Other days it is fun to run through the sprinkler, have a water balloon fight and stay up from early to late at night. Summer brings adventures, delicious fruits and vegetables, family time and an energy that is different from how we feel on a sunny but cold day in the winter.
Ansel had his first corn on the cob – definitely a summer ritual. It used to be that eating corn on the cob was only a summer ritual like watermelon, strawberries and tomatoes on the vine. We can buy almost any of these fruits and vegetables all year round now so there is a different feeling when you are eating them but they still say summer to me. It was so much fun watching Ansel eat the corn off the cob and then eat the cob itself! I remember eating every kernel of corn when we were on the farm in Ohio. So delicious.
Children are curious about the food they eat. Summer is a great time to show children where their food comes from. Visit one of the local farms and let the kids pick strawberries, blueberries or beans. The produce at the farmer’s markets give you an opportunity to buy something you wouldn’t necessarily buy at the grocery store. Try something new – most of summer’s harvests may be new to your child this summer so trying a new fruit or vegetable lets you experience the world of eating in a way they do most every day. Have fun eating something new or preparing it in a new way.
Spending time outside is also a summer ritual. Picnics at the park, hikes in the cool woods on a hot day, water play at the beach, bike rides and listening to the bidrs singing early in the morning are all ways that we can enjoy the warm summer days. We loved to camp in the summer and Mt Rainier was a favorite camping spot. At the time you couldn’t make reservations at the State and National Parks so it was always an adventure just getting a campsite. And it usually meant a rather long drive and especially long if we couldn’t find a camping spot and had to drive back home! Since our sons were so excited about camping and we didn’t know if we could get a site we used to do a lot of camping in the back yard when they were little. By camping in the backyard we always knew we would find a spot and that our spot would be near the restrooms! We would set up the tent in the yard, roast marshmallows over a campfire and look at the stars in the sky. We had fun being outside without having to pack everything into the car. When the guys were in grade school they would ask to sleep outside on the back deck. It
was so much fun to sleep outside with the stars shining over your head.
We went on lots of local adventures during the summer but Discovery Park was always a favorite place for hiking and adventure. There was a great playground there, lots of tall trees that filtered the sunshine onto the trails and big fields to run in. We saw all sorts of wildlife on our visits. We would look for owls, eagles, rabbits, snakes, spiders, worms as well as watch the blossoms on blackberry bushes that would turn into the blackberries that we would pick in late summer. On weekends we would visit parks that were further away. One of the weekend trips was to Wallace Falls because it was near a fishery and Nick loved fish. Find places to go that are places that reflect the interests of your child. Knowing they will find something they like after enduring a long car ride is always helpful.
DAY HIKES WITH KIDS
Another favorite activity was reading. Summer is a great time to slow down the activities and just sit outside and read a book. One summer we visited every library in our area. We talked about the architecture, the neighborhoods, the way the books were displayed. Most of the libraries are close to parks so you can get your book ad have a picnic in the nearby park. Time to read and time to play. It is a perfect combination. At home we would spread a blanket under the tree in the front yard and read all afternoon long. As they got older they would spend the afternoon reading in that same tree. The tree had to be cut down because of a fungal disease but I kept a piece of the tree for myself, Joel and Nick. I miss that tree so much but I still have a piece of it to remind me of our summers sitting under it in the shade of its leafy branches.
What are the memories you have of summer? What did you do as a family? I have so many fond memories: listening to their laughter as they played games outside, watching them lay on their backs and look at the clouds, picking (and eating) the fruit and vegetables in the garden they planted, eating cold juice pops on a hot day, watching them run through the cool water of the sprinkler, the smell of the smoke from the campfire. These are triggers to the memories of summer with my children. Whenever I get hit by the water from a sprinkler on our evening walk, hear children laughing in the evening or taste fresh strawberries I am transported back to the summer days when our sons were little. So much fun!
What are the memories that will be with you when your little ones are not so little? What do you remember from your childhood that you would like to share with your child? Summer is a great time to share traditions and create memories. Enjoy!