Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days Of Summer . . .
August 9, 2013 8:28 AM   Subscribe

Once again, summer is half over, and I feel as though I'm missing it completely. Yikes! When I was a child/teenager I felt as though summer went on and on and I was completely steeped in it. Since I've become an adult, I feel as though it never happens. I know I'm not going to ever recover the "endless summer" feeling I had as a child, but I need your advice on what to do so that when fall is here I can feel as though I've had a summer.

At first I thought it was simply that I was too busy to slow down and enjoy my summer, but over the last few years I have made my life a great deal simpler. This has been helpful in many other ways but it hasn't had much of an impact in this area.

What won't work:

- anything requiring money
- anything involving much physical activity

Here are some things I've thought of:

- listening to summer-themed music
- reading books that are summer-themed or evoke a feeling of summer
- eating traditional summer foods (barbecue, salads)

What am I missing, clever MeFi people?
posted by purplesludge to Grab Bag (29 answers total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
I'm feeling the same way.

I think I'm going to just try to be outside more. Reading a book? Do it outside. Dozing off? Take a blanket outside. Friends coming over? Outside!
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:33 AM on August 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

Are you able to step out and take a walk in a park or conservation area? Have a picnic? Go to a greenhouse or botanical garden? Do you live near a lake and able to stick your toe in water?
posted by MeatheadBrokeMyChair at 8:33 AM on August 9, 2013

Go to the beach.
Take a boat ride.
Drink margaritas outdoors with friends.
Have a picnic.
Read a book in the park.
Go to an outdoor concert, festival, or street fair.
Go for a walk or sit on the porch at night, when it's still warm.
posted by chickenmagazine at 8:37 AM on August 9, 2013

Best answer: Do NOTHING.

As a child, summer lasted forever because you didn't have anything to do and had to amuse yourself organically. You marinated in the warmth and boredom. You let things come out of what already is, not pre-planning and then executing it.

Get a book and read it outside. When you're bored... still read the book outside. Then cook dinner. Then go to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Make no plans. No festivals. No big BBQs. No Netflix binges. Get up and sit in the heat. Have people over and sit in the heat together. That's what makes it endless. Eventually you're so bored your mind has nothing better to do but cough up imaginative ideas (stories, crafts, feelings...) and follow them a little, and then return to the heat. That is my suggestion to you.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:38 AM on August 9, 2013 [26 favorites]

Best answer: Barbecue is one, definitely.

I'm not sure what your limitations are for physical activity but I have always found that summer feels incomplete if I don't jump in a lake at least once before Labor Day.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:38 AM on August 9, 2013

Get up early and greet the sunrise. The still, fresh quality of the air around dawn before the heat sets in is the essence of summer to me.

Re outdoor movies and concerts - look for free ones in your area, or try to find somewhere to sit just outside the paid area where you can see and hear everything.
posted by pianissimo at 8:42 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think you should stick with those three things you've already thought of. If you try to make a hundred point bucket list you've already destroyed the basic idea. Keep it simple and get out and play.
posted by JJ86 at 8:42 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Something I miss about summer is picnics. I don't know how often we really went when I was a kid but I have a few good memories of them and definite associate them with my youth and summer. Maybe you could think about some of the things you associate with being young? Any annual activities you used to do with your family? For example, one of the nearing the end of summer things my family always did was go to the state fair.

And I remember one great summer where the local movie theater had a program of weekly movies for kids that my mom signed me up for. A cold movie theater when it's blindingly hot is fabulous and matinees are cheap. (On preview, I see that you say nothing that requires money so matinees might not work.)
posted by Beti at 8:46 AM on August 9, 2013

For me, summer time is now about the weather. I've never lived anywhere that has been too hot and muggy for too long, so it's time to go outside and wander around, even if it's just in the morning and/or evening.

Now that it's August, the sunrise is already a good deal later than it was a month ago. Getting up at 5 AM and I go outside to a dark, starry sky, so you don't have to wake up too early to see the sunrise. The local sunrise time is now around 6:20 AM.

Yes, picnics! You don't have to barbeque, but if you can, that's a bonus. If you can't, invite friends who can and bring along the meat, drinks and/or some sides to show your appreciation for the cook(s).

If you want to get away without too much work, find some place to rent a cabin or go car camping for a weekend. Even if you've never been car camping, this is a pretty good list of things to think about. As mentioned there, if you're not gone for too long, you don't have to even cook, you can go some place with restaurants near by and just eat out. (Note: it's an Esurance blog, so there's a plug for RV and trailer insurance at the end, but the tips are all good.)
posted by filthy light thief at 8:49 AM on August 9, 2013

Agreed, if you try to make a big list of things you think you'll need to do in order to feel like you had a summer, you will waste your summer stressing over how to get all those items in.

Just relax. Get outside as much as you can and soak up that sun and fresh air. Go for walks along some trails. Go swimming in a lake. Play frisbee. Have a BBQ. Just do fun stuff outside with other people.

And frankly, I think you're a leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeettle bit on the wrong track with trying to limit the amount of physical activity. As a kid my summers were spent taking bike rides and running through sprinklers and swimming and hiking... basically, being active outside. The times when I don't feel like I have had a summer are the times when I didn't take advantage of the nice weather and do stuff out doors. Seriously. This past week we took our kid for an hour and a half long bike ride along some trails. We are NOT a wildernessy outdoorsy family, but it was a god damned awesome time. We all came home tired and hot and sweaty, but my step son declared it "the awesomest thing ever", and my fiance and I both remarked on how that just felt like summer.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:49 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I can help with this!

I felt exactly as you. Only this year I finally started taking advantage of the apt. complex pool.

So, if you have access to a pool, even only to sit poolside, do that. Or go to a park. Sit outside.

Anything outside will help. Sit on a blanket outside at dusk and listen to the frogs and critters.

But honestly, the quickest way to get that summer feeling back, is find a pool or lake or beach.

(Failing that, a watermelon sliced in the backyard with friends will do.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:51 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh! Tubing! If you live anywhere near a good sized, slow-moving river, go tubing! I've only gone once, but that, for me, was the epitome of a lazy summer day. Just don't forget to slather on the sunscreen.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:51 AM on August 9, 2013

Agreed that it's about the feeling of extended time and space - it's very hard to reclaim this as an adult on a regular schedule. Have you got a garden, or a park nearby? I have a small patch of green and I've been taking a bottle of wine and a blanket and lying outside watching the stars come up - until the the sun comes back again if possible. Then napping for an hour during the afternoon with the fan on and the blinds down.

Another option is to get a little bit too much sun, not burnt, just heated until you feel slightly dizzy and giddy. I was a fair-headed kid and this was pretty much my entire summer state back in the day. Failing that, splashing about in water helps recapture some of that feeling (city fountains as much as lakes), or drifitng in a rowboat for a couple of hours, staring at insects in the flowers, playing grass 'reeds' between thumb and finger, looking up through sunlit boughs...that kind of thing.
posted by freya_lamb at 9:04 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

St. Alia of the Bunnies is on the right track. Absolutely go to the beach if you live near one - might cost you a few bucks for parking and sunscreen but otherwise it doesn't cost anything to sit by the seashore or a lake. (Bonus points if there's a boardwalk/tourist strip nearby.)

I also second just getting outside in the warm in general; go for walks or day hikes (most places have plenty of nearby trails that are more or less flat, no strenuous climbing required.)

Find a nearby dairy bar/ice cream stand and get yourself an ice cream cone at dusk when everyone else is there enjoying the summer night too. Or find a local bar/restaurant/whatever that has a cruise night, and go admire the classic cars along with everyone else.

I think that "endless summer" feeling is a communal thing, which is why it's so hard to hold onto as an adult. When you're a kid, all the other kids are in full summer mode too, so even if you're not directly hanging out with them, you have that shared sense of freedom. Most grown-ups don't get summers off, but whenever I go someplace where people are taking part in a summer ritual like getting ice cream and hanging around in the warm evening to enjoy it, I definitely get some of that magic feeling back. Same thing with places like beaches or amusement parks; everyone is there for the sole purpose of celebrating summer and/or fun, and it generates a good vibe for everyone.
posted by usonian at 9:17 AM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

When I think of my childhood summers, the first thing I think of is going outside all day and getting so filthy that the sweat made tracks through the crusted dirt on my arms and legs. This is hard as an adult because I'm the one who has to clean up the mess I make on the way to the shower when I come in at night.

The second is spending a week at the lake, and being in the water so much that all the gnat and mosquito bites from the outdoor mud days heal. This is hard because I don't work in a lake.

The third is manageable - summer food.

-Keep boiled potatoes and eggs, and chopped celery and onions on hand for quick potato and macaroni salads and deviled eggs.

-If you have a gas stove you can roast weenies over the flame, but a frying pan is OK. A George Foreman grill won't give you the same flavor, but you'll have the marks. For some reason, my local grocery store almost always has marked-down, day-old burger and hot dog buns all summer. I usually don't eat bread with less than 2 grams of fiber per serving, but I make an occasional exception for cheap summer buns.

-Keep your favorite canned beans in the cupboard.

-Lemonade. (Lemon Mio is great!)

When I had a proper back yard, I'd sleep outside in a tent on the weekends. Sure, the bolder feral cats would climb the walls at night (I choose to believe it was just the cats), but the fresh air was wonderful. Now, once or twice a summer, I drag the mattress onto the bedroom floor in front of the window.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:24 AM on August 9, 2013

i hate summer when it's here, but i like the idea of it. most of my summer things involve food. but here's what i like doing:

1. eating watermelon for dinner (or any cold things, like guacamole or caprese salad, or whatever)
2. ice cold summery drinks - gin and tonics, pimms cup, mojitos, margaritas, etc.
3. POPSICLES. go buy yourself a $10 popsicle mold on amazon and make yourself some fancy ass popsicles. something about holding a stick of flavored ice turns me into a 10 year old again and i get excited about it.
4. laying under a tree in a park reading. or fucking around on your iphone, whatever it is you like to do in your leisure time.
5. pool pool pool. any sort of water-based activity. don't even care if you just go to the pool to sit on the sidelines and read a book - the shimmering water and smell of sunscreen will make you feel AWESOME.
posted by kerning at 9:25 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh! Also good for that communal summertime buzz: look for local public concerts and weekend street/craft festivals.
posted by usonian at 9:26 AM on August 9, 2013

Summer foods for me include pasta salad, fruit salad, corn on the cob, grilled food. These things are all even more summery when eated outside, and doubly so when eaten outside in a park or beach or by a pool. If you can't get access to a pool, have a water balloon fight. Have watermelon seed spitting contests. And play board games. Run through a sprinkler.

Read your book at a beach or in a park, on a bench or a blanket, with a picnic or without. Lazy bike rides to the park or beach are awesome.

If you're in a park, take a second to enjoy the swings!

US National Parks have free admission days. August 25th is the next one. Sure, they'll be more crowded than usual. But consider it great for people watching. Also, free.

Geocaching might be fun for you. If that's too much, maybe just organize a scavenger hunt with some friends. Another potentially low activity outdoor thing is playing frisbee/catch. Maybe more strenuous than you want, but you were vague about that.

Regal has 9 weeks of deeply discounted ($1) daytime movies at 10am on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, starting in different weeks for different locations. Other theaters have similar deals. Muvico, Marquee. If you're stayign home to watch movies, consider my favorite summer movies: Grease, Dirty Dancing, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, ET, any of the National Lampoon movies. Some people like classic surf movies.

Bank of America offers free museum entry to customers on specific dates. For August the dates have passed, but September 7 and 8 are the next ones. That will stretch summer out for a bit. (Maybe I'm alone in associating museums with summer.)

More indoor summer activities include getting a pen pal. International will take longer to get mail back and forth. The long wait for things might help stretch the feeling of summer.

Home Depot offers free classes for building and fixing things. Which always feels very summery to me.

Watching a plant grow and bear fruit is an awesome way to slow down time. Consider getting a tomato (or other) plant that's already pretty big while you're at Home Depot. It'll pay for itself in good tomatoes.

Speaking of nature, Perseid Meteor Shower will be visible on Monday, August 12.
Watch sunsets! From as many vantage points as possible. I don't associate sunrises with summer unless I'm going fishing. So, tag along with someone who loves to go fishing! Whiel you're waiting for a bite, practice skipping stones. Go camping. Hopefully a friend has gear and you can borrow a sleeping bag.

I think the penultimate suggestion for summer feeling is vicariously getting it through kids. Offer to babysit for a friend so they can go out for an afternoon or evening. Follow the lead of the kids on what they like to do in summer. Ply them with root beer floats.
posted by bilabial at 9:26 AM on August 9, 2013

Time speeds up the older you get, no matter what you're doing.

I was a kid in California and Arizona. Two places that are rather extended in the hot months. I always looked forward to fall so I could go outside and play!

Go to a dog park and blow bubbles, watch the dogs have fun!

Taking a long drive listening to Pop Music.

Lay in the grass and look for bugs.

Eat summer fruits and read on the porch.

The days are lazy, so roll with that.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:29 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: - listening to summer-themed music
- reading books that are summer-themed or evoke a feeling of summer
- eating traditional summer foods (barbecue, salads)

These three things you can do all year to give you a feeling of summer!

I'd focus more on enjoying all the good things that can only be enjoyed in the summer, which really means being outside as much as possible - nature walks, water, outdoor festivals, camping, picnics/barbeques, farmer's markets, beach/pools, whatever things most appeal to you. Walk with your bare feet in the grass. Lie in the sun for a little while, or sit in the shade all day with a book. Be as active as you are able to be - even just walking a bit outdoors is much more rewarding than sitting around all day!

Of course, you can combine your summer-themed things with being outdoors, if you like!
posted by randomnity at 9:37 AM on August 9, 2013

Best answer: Also try to stay away from screens as much as possible - save the TV/movies/idle internetting timesucks for the long dark winter months and get out into the sun while it's still around!
posted by randomnity at 9:39 AM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Nthing being outdoors and hanging out with kids. Also, I think the endless childhood summers were partly due to:

1. No work (/school), day after day after day - hard to replicate unless you're loaded and can afford not to work, but if you have some annual leave you could take it and NOT go anywhere, just holiday at your home (mind you, this is coming from a European who gets 35 days' holiday a year, might not work so well with what I understand US vacation allowances to be).

2. Children's natural tendency to be fairly mindful and in-the-moment - Maybe practice mindfulness meditation and try and make a point of really concentrating on whatever summery thing you're doing as you're doing it, and the sensations that arise, rather than letting your mind wander forward to paying the bills tonight etc.

3. Nostalgia - there's always going to be a bit of a rosy glow on summer childhood memories, which makes the summer seem more glorious than it maybe did at the time. I think the reality (for me, at least) also probably included a fair amount of boredom, but I don't remember that, only the waterfights, swimming in the river, trips to the seaside etc.

4. Altered perception of time - six weeks (or whatever) feels like forever to kids, not so much to adults, so summer seemed to last much longer. We also knew it was going to end with going up a year/grade at school, having a new teacher etc., which was all so incomprehensibly different that it was hard to imagine what Life After Summer would be like. As adults we know it'll be much the same.
posted by penguin pie at 10:14 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are a lot of great questions on here about summer music and summer movies. Maybe start and share a playlist? Also, if you use Pandora or Spotify, there are a lot of good summer playlists there.
posted by 3491again at 10:19 AM on August 9, 2013

Nothing beats sitting under an actual tree, reading, or just staring, and having a cool drink at hand.
posted by Namlit at 11:01 AM on August 9, 2013

A whole afternoon barefoot, picknicking by the river/lake/ocean with your friends, dipping in, drying out by playing beach tennis or feather ball, barbecuing, calling more people to come over and join you, watching the sunset together, then building a bonfire, singing songs and going home at midnight with a whole bunch of mosquito bites and clothes and hair smelling of smoke, sun lotion and insect repellent.

Then showering, going to bed and sleeping late.

Walk barefoot on the grass on a hot day.

Eat ice-cream whenever you're out walking in the city.

Take a bike trip somewhere near and have your picknick there.

Sleep outside on the balcony or in your garden.

Sit in a park on a windy day, surrounded by aspens and listen to their leaves rustling.
posted by ipsative at 11:12 AM on August 9, 2013

Now is the time for locally grown fresh fruit (mmm peaches!) and corn on the cob. You do not need to steam up your kitchen boiling corn - put it in the microwave for 4 minutes. I pull back the husk and remove the silk before cooking, but others find it simpler to pull off the silk and husk after cooking. Frozen corn is as close as the supermarket all year, but just not the same.
posted by Cranberry at 11:29 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Adulthood is expulsion from Eden, right? Summer never happens. The more you try to attain it the more it runs away. A Zen Master once said, "So you think you have to run to catch up with it. But what if it's actually walking right behind you? Then you only have to stop for a while and let it catch up with you." No need to imitate childhood summer. What do you actually want? Warmth, relaxation, freedom? These things are available, but maybe in new forms. Maybe with more patina and self-consciousness. That's alright. If you want to swim laps instead of riding the water slide, that's perfect. If you want to drink coffee and read up on Hegel, that's beautiful. Summer is all around you no matter what you do, you're already there!
posted by mbrock at 11:52 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Food and enjoying it mostly uncooked and unfussed with! Nothing makes me feel more summery and cyclical than realizing it's that time of year when I don't have to turn the oven on for months and everything tastes best just as-is. Watermelon, peaches, tomatoes, basil, corn you shuck in the backyard right before dinner, Arnold Palmers (with or without added gin...), berries, cucumbers and mint in drinks, ceviche, cheap dry sparkling wines like vinho verde or maybe Mulderbosch rose or chenin blanc, cold steeped tea (I recommend the Takeya 2 quart flash chill pitcher for this--stick 8 teaspoons of tea leaves in, fill with water, and just wait, the longer the better with black teas usually--overnight at least, up to 4 days even, yum). For even more summery feel, do this in mason jars so you have more variety--stick in fridge overnight, strain out per glass with a little strainer or tea basket, cycle through different flavors so one's always ready when you want it. If you like your tea sweet, make simple syrup for the fridge too--easy peasy, equal parts or double sugar to water heated on the stove 'til sugar dissolves, takes less than 20 minutes). Or if you wanna go full on Southern-y summer, proper sweet tea (this is a little more complicated involving making a hyper concentrated tea-sugar syrup over the stove and then icing). Go berry picking at a local farm early in the morning--we used to as soon as school ended growing up so it automatically transports me to being a kid in the summer. Wear next to nothing and sit by a fan or in a cool basement and read all day. And as mentioned, get near big bodies of water--lakes are the best (says the girl who grew up less than a mile from Lake Ontario). Lots of neighborhood, street, or ethnic festivals/block parties go on in summertime, many free. Backyard hammocking. Picnics full of cold make-ahead foods like potato salad or mac salad. (Orangette has a ton of summery salads on her blog by the way--a few have names like "Almost Summer Salad" "Early Summer Noodle Salad" or something like that, yeah. I bet Heidi at 101Cookbooks would be good for this category too.) Even if it's too hot to picnic outside you could do what we used to as kids--spread a tablecloth on the floor in the living room and "indoor picnic" for dinner. Bonus, no ants.
posted by ifjuly at 2:21 PM on August 9, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks so much, everyone! I can see this helping me quite a bit.
posted by purplesludge at 11:07 AM on August 10, 2013

« Older When you went away to college, what gift was most...   |   New Zealand Honeymoon: Help Us Plan Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.