I can feel it in the air that is beginning to get a chill at night. I can see it in the dusk that comes before 9 p.m., and even hear it in the sound of marching bands practicing.
Summer is almost over.
I am an avowed summerholic. I've written about summer before. Summer is a brightly colored Popsicle. Summer is a breeze tinged with the scent of sea air, the sound of a wave sweeping the sand. Summer is three months-plus of the world giving you a deck chair and saying, "Kick back."
Winter, despite its serenity and quiet beauty, is the devil. All the poetry and picturesque landscapes it inspires don't change the fact that in a few months, driving will become a frozen gauntlet of death.
I achieved many of my summer goals. I kayaked, I festivaled. I sunned, I funned. Money and time kept me from stuff like going on vacation, or to an amusement park. Nonetheless, a good time was had. And there's still plenty of time for more.
That being said, here's an end-of-summer checklist to ensure that when I'm struggling to feel my extremities underneath several cubic feet of wool, I can look back at a summer well done and say, "Boy, that was nice." I'll try to get as much of it done as I can before the end of the Canfield Fair. All of you can have a go at it as well:
Have a party. I used to have epic parties. I ran into a friend I see less often than the blue moon, and he waxed nostalgic about a party I had years ago. Then I thought about the other friends I don't see as much as I like to, and a party seems like a good solution. As soon as I summon the will to clean the house.
Visit Lake Erie. Since many waterways have been reduced to puddles of stinky carp and ancient beer cans because of the drought, Lake Erie was worth the drive to have a bigger expanse to swim and boat. There's several different sites to visit, all well within a tank of gas, round-trip. The water may be cooler now than it was in July, but I'm no sissy. One of Ohio's best assets.
Cook out. My grill has been sadly underutilized this summer, as well my dad's. These grill sins of me and my father shall be rectified. A nice cut of fish, or a thick steak, can soothe your soul with just a sizzle. I want to try grilled peaches and tofu again, too. Dad, can a Labor Day picnic be arranged?
Sit in the grass and feel the sun on my skin. Simple enough. Everyone should stop whatever they're doing in their hectic day and do this at least once more before the grass and sun are just a distant memory.
Ride a ride. So many festivals and whatnot, and I have yet to ride a ride this summer. Nonsense! This means that at the Canfield Fair, I must dangle my feet from the Yo-Yo and possibly lose a shoe, or be crammed into one side of the cart in the Scrambler as it spins around wildly, or scream like a little girl on that thing that looks like a big Viking ship that goes in a circle.
Deep-fried everything. If the Canfield Fair doesn't have those fried Kool-Aid balls, I'm making them myself. Don't judge.
Ride my bike. My bike tires have been flat all summer. Shame on me. An evening bike ride is always a summer joy.
Go for ice cream without putting my shoes on. You can get away with this when you're a kid - dropping everything and jumping in the car when someone says "Dairy Queen" barefoot and perhaps still in your swimsuit. Maybe I'll put that to the test. But minus the swimsuit and plus actual clothes.
So, take a book to the beach. Catch a lightning bug and let it go. Squirt a squirt gun, or throw a water balloon, if that's your thing. Sit on a patio. Listen to the crickets. Even out your driver's-side tan. Whatever you end up doing, have a good rest of the summer. Now, six months of crud.