ODE TO SUMMER
My longtime favorite season is summer.
Though fall, spring nor winter is a bummer.
At 70, this thought’s not a newcomer;
It came decades ago with my first frozen rummer.
“Summer afternoon” according to American-born British writer, Henry James, are the two most-beautiful words in the English language. I agree, and at least for me, close runners-up are: “summer morning,” and “summer evening.” I would almost add “summer noonish” to those beauties but another British writer, Noel Coward, cautioned “only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.”
S.U.N.S. SUMMER celebrates the sun-kissed days and balmy nights from Memorial Day through Labor Day and all those wonderful weekends between those freedom-loving American holidays. “The S.U.N.S. (Smile-Making, Uniting, Neighboring, Spellbinding) Joyous Aging System” encourages all ages to savor each season but paraphrasing the Gershwin standard, “Summertime and the livin’ is–easy to love.” Here are some joyful ideas to add to your own:
S.U.N.S. SUMMER SMILE-MAKING (Positive Thinking & Positive Doing)
–GO BAREFOOTIN’ across a freshly clipped lawn
–UNPLUG from tech and listen to the summer sounds of nature
–CATCH fireflies in a jar with tin-punched air holes…then release
–WATCH a different sunset every night
–RIDE your bike or rent one and pedal your cares away
–READ “beach books” or classics, more sunlight means more reading time
–GAZE at the stars away from the “light pollution” of urban life (you might spend a wee bit of time on the phone app, “Sky Map” to identify the heavenly bodies and constellations). NASA also has a free app which offers views from outer space and a tracker for the International Space Station
–SPECTATE some baseball or get your own game going
–PLAY, don’t ponder it too much, just play some spontaneously as you did in your childhood, think “squirting water” and “sandcastles
–HIKE trails safely alone, remembering a water bottle and some “gorp”
–TOUR your town as a tourist would, reminisce and learn some history
S.U.N.S. SUMMER UNITING (Deeply Connecting)
–TANDEM-RIDING on a bicycle built-for-two is a great, fun example of pulling together
–CROQUET playing is one of the first outdoor games where men and women could equally compete
–PICNICS can be fun with just a jug of wine and a loaf of bread but they’re really better with thou
–ROAD TRIPS with or without a map; get your motor runnin’, head out on the highway, you were born to be wild together
–FRISBEE TOSSING could be done alone but it would take forever and be a lot of work
–GLAMPING or “glam camping” will let you combine someone’s knowledge of camp life and another’s appreciate for all things campy
–CRAFTING outdoors, think making mosaics and sidewalk chalk art
–HERO-APPRECIATION at a veterans war memorial is a poignant way to bond with another living soul as together you salute those who sacrificed all for your freedoms; read some names out loud and imagine the lives they lived and the greatest gift they gave
S.U.N.S. SUMMER NEIGHBORING—(Others-Centeredness)
–“HELPER’S HIGH” can be yours to experience volunteering in your own town or on vacation
–LIFEGUARDING and teaching water safety are needed across America; you could also pay for swim class scholarships (contact your local parks and recreation department)
–FARMERS MARKETS allow you to support local growers and enjoy delicious, healthy summer foods
–THEATRE-IN-THE PARK and other outdoor locations need your help to perform, build sets or add to the audience applause—hosting outdoor family film night can also be great summertime fun
–THANKING WITH A NOTE every resident in a veterans home or hospital will make you feel like a patriot too
–DONATE A FAMILY PICNIC BASKET to help fight hunger and share your joy of the season
S.U.N.S. SUMMER SPELLBINDING (Meaningful Focus)
–LAWN-MOWING is something many people enjoy because it allows them to “get in the zone,” forget their own worries and get the almost instant gratification of a well-tended landscape
–CHURNING ice cream is good exercise and the repetitive motion and sound can be mesmerizing
–BUGGING with the best of ‘em; butterflies and even bumble bees are easy to love but just this year, my 70th, I’ve come up with something kind to say about mosquitoes—fish love ‘em—the next time you hear some Christian evangelist offering up praise for the “loaves and fishes,” ask them to also thank God for the skeeters that helped Jesus of Nazareth make those fish big enough to share
–BIRDWATCH with the intensity of Audubon, tote your bird-identifying book and sketchpad into the wild or at least a park and get lost in the wonderment of summer’s aviary glory on the wing
–GRILL something obsessively like the lovechild of Martha Stewart and Gordon Ramsey, but without going to prison or cursing like an unhinged sailor
S.U.N.S. SUMMER takes you to another place at least in your thinking. This is a serious-never-solemn summer. Let’s gawk for hours at some water and sign up for all the “conscious nothingness” we can handle. It’s summertime and the sun-splashed lollygagging is easy.
SUMMER ODES FROM OTHERS:
“It’s a smile, it’s a kiss, it’s a sip of wine…it’s summertime.”—Kenny Chesney
“Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy.”—Regina Brett
“There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.”—Celia Thaxton
“The summer night is like a perfection of thought.”—Wallace Stevens
“And so, with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in [a] fast movie, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Live in the sunshine. Swim in the summer sea. Drink in the wild air.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Shakespeare: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate.” Today’s translation: “You’re like summer…HOT!”
Minnesota is excited about summer this year. It’s forecasted to be on a weekend.
Which is the most desired summer body since the pandemic? The antibody.
I wanted to go skinny dipping this summer, but I guess I’ll just go flabby dipping, again.
Fear of heat stroke this summer makes me anxious. I thought about getting an emotional support dog but instead, I’m getting a chin-chiller.
JOY-GIVERS CELEBRATING A BIRTHDAY THIS WEEK:
June 4—Dr. Ruth
June 5—Mark Wahlberg
June 6—Harvey Fierstein
June 7—Allen Iverson (basketball)
June 8—Joan Rivers
June 9—Jackie Mason
June 10—Judy Garland
SUMMER SHRIMP ROLLS—LOUISIANA
Each week, JOY & GERONTOLOGY shares a recipe saluting a healthy food produced in America. The delicious and nutritious collection is called “The S.U.N.S. Longevity Cookbook” and highlights vitamin B-3 (niacin) which many gerontologists believe holds the promise for a long, healthy, joyful life.
2 cups shredded carrots
1 small red onion
¾ cups unseasoned rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
½ cup sugar
2 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon Asian fish sauce
16 round rice papers
16 cilantro sprigs
1 head Boston lettuce
1 lb. cooked, large shrimp
2 yellow bell peppers
3 ½ oz. bean thread vermicelli
Step 1—In a bowl, toss the carrots, onion, ¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons of the vinegar and 2 Tablespoons of the sugar. Let stand until the vegetables soften, 30 minutes, drain.
Step 2—In a glass bowl, mix the remaining vinegar, sugar and garlic. Microwave at high power for about 30 seconds, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the fish sauce and set aside for 30 minutes; discard the garlic.
Step 3—Meanwhile, soak one rice paper at a time in hot water until pliable, about 10 seconds; transfer to a work surface. Set a cilantro sprig and lettuce leaf on the lower third of the rice paper and top with 3 shrimp halves. Top with some of the yellow pepper, vermicelli and the pickled vegetables; roll up tightly, folding in the sides. Place the roll on a platter and repeat with the remaining ingredients. Halve the rolls and serve with the sauce for dipping.
1,070 JOY-GIVING THINGS FROM MY FIRST 70 YEARS (continued):
502. “Hot Fun in the Summertime” by Sly and the Family Stone.
503. People who ask, “Where are you summering?”
504. Greek ices.
505. Grown-up snow cones.
506. “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”
507. “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.”
508. “The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley.
509. “The Ling, Hot Summer” by William Faulkner.
510. “500 Days of Summer”
511. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in Stratford.
512. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” ballet choreographed by Brooke Desnoes.
513. Summer squash from an Alabama farmers market.
514. “Summer and Smoke” by Tennessee Williams.
515. Donna Summer.
516. “Summer Rain” by Johnny Rivers.
517. “Summer Wine” by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood.
518. Riesling and Rose’.
519. The Summer Olympiad.
520. “Wet, Hot American Summer,” the classic movie.
521. “Summer in the City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful.
522. Vacation Bible School crafts.
523. Grilled Duchess Donuts and hand-cranked ice cream.
524. “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer.”
HAPPY, JOYFUL S.U.N.S. SUMMERTIME!