So it’s May…and that means summer!  Well, honestly, in Tucson pretty much any time after tax day starts feeling like summer, and it continues until (or beyond!) Halloween.  Difference being, now the national chain shopping centers have gotten in on it, and you’ll see stuff like swimsuits, cover-ups, pool toys, barbecue skewers, etc. in the seasonal aisle of Walgreen’s, so that’s how you know, “oh yeah, the rest of the world is finally having summer now too!”

And soon it becomes monsoon season, a.k.a. “the time when Whitney’s phone fills with pictures of cool rainclouds and/or storm sunsets”!  That’s always fun.
Remember when you were a kid and summer was SO EXCITING OMG because you got three whole months with no school, and you had fun things like camp, going to the neighborhood pool or water park, maybe sports or other summer activities, beach, vacations, road trips, and oh yeah, did I mention no school?  Super-fun.  
However, once you’re done with school…it is no longer like that.  You still have work, same as always, only now it’s scathingly hot while you work.  Not so cool.  Dammit, DJ Jazzy Jeff!  You’ve set my expectations for summer fun way too high!
But summer can still be enjoyable even as an adult, right?

I think it can.  I still look forward to summer every year as a time to change my routine around and do some new projects, so it can still be a fun time of year even when it’s 108 degrees outside and for a couple hours every day it’s basically too hot to do anything except sit directly under an air vent in your underwear.

Things I plan to do this summer…
Make summer resolutions.  It’s like new year’s resolutions, except smaller in scale because you only have a few months.  I did this last year, just a list of, “okay, here’s the things I want to do this summer”…okay, so I didn’t do all of them, but that’s not the point.  Like this summer, I want to do some swimming, come up with some new meals to do on the grill, finally finish hanging curtains in my studio, I have a summer reading list, I have certain art goals…you get the picture.
Actually, I think it’s always easier for me to break down my yearly goals into a season-by-season plan instead.  That way instead of a big thing like “I’m going to redecorate my studio this year!” it can be, “my winter goal is to get it cleaned, my spring goal is to paint it and buy new shelves, my summer goal is to hang curtains,” etc.  So I tend to do this even when it’s not summer.
It’s not necessarily a summer goal of mine to try all the beers in the local brewpubs…although maybe it should be…
Get in the water!  Here’s the sad thing about having a teenage kid: you can no longer go to water parks, the pool, splash pads, etc. and play around under the guise of, “I’m taking my kid there.”  Or can you?  I keep seeing these pictures of parks with splash pads in the paper and these articles about “ways to help your kids stay cool this summer!” and I’m thinking, hey, I want to do those things too!  I’m very tempted to just go to the darn water park myself this year, and who cares if anyone thinks it’s weird?  It’s fun, dammit!  If we had a lake or a beach nearby, I would go there too.  
If nothing else, I’m at least going to go swimming a few times this year.  When it’s this hot out, it’s the best feeling ever to surround yourself with cool water. (It’s also a good exercise you can do without overheating!)
Actual temperature reading on my car’s thermometer last summer.  Barf.
Have parties!  Every year, we have a Memorial Day party.  Why?  Not really sure…it’s been a family tradition ever since I was 10 or so, and we just keep doing it.  I like trying out new recipes on the party crowd, playing music on the patio with people, and just catching up with everybody.  It makes the start of summer feel celebratory, rather than, “ugh, here we go again.”  Last year I bucked the trend a little and also had a Fourth of July party, which was also great, although around here it’s way too hot in July to party outdoors for any extended period of time.

We did, however, launch Chinese lanterns.  Awesome!…until one crashed in a nearby front yard and we had to run and put it out before it set fire to the landscaping.
Eat cool stuff.  Temperature-cool, that is.  It is salad season, my friends.  I make this recipe into a salad almost every year (just chop up the chicken and serve it over spring mix), and this one was my favorite last year (although Mr. Whitney doesn’t like it, so…more for me!).  Get two things from the store and they will be the best purchases of the summer: an infuser pitcher, and a popsicle mold.  That pitcher isn’t just good for iced teas, you can put things like fresh mint, lemon slices, and cucumber in it, and fill it with ice water, to make a really tasty and refreshing flavored water.  And popsicle molds are self explanatory.  I’ve enjoyed playing with new combinations over the years, like different fruit with different yogurt flavors, or tea pops…this year I might even go really crazy and make wine pops, how great would that be?
Art, and art, and more art.  In the past, I would use the summers to learn a totally new art form, like knitting, or bead weaving, etc.  But if it’s something that requires buying a lot of new supplies, and money is tight, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that.  This summer I might pick back up on an old art form (make some more jewelry? make stuff with Sculpey?), or do a series of paintings (more watercolor word art? more vintage vector portraits like Gloria and Lucy?).  Hey, it’s summer, and if you have to be holed up indoors in air conditioning, you might as well use your time wisely.
Do something new.  Start reading the paper right now.  You know all those fun summer activities for kids?  There might be some grown-up equivalents.  Around here, some of the popular outdoor attractions (the zoo, nature reserves, etc.) have “after dark tours,” so that you can go when it’s not hot as heck and still enjoy yourselves.  Last year we discovered outdoor orchestra concerts in another local park, so we got to go and have food truck food and lie on the grass listening to the 1812 Overture.  This year I want to find the alleged “bat bridge” – it’s a bridge where, if you go at sunset during the right time of the year, you can see a hundred bats fly out, like a mini urban Carlsbad Caverns.  I love bats, so that would just be freakin’ cool.
Point being, go discover new things!  Go see local landmarks and festivals that you’ve missed.  It might distract you from the heat!  And on that note…
Stay cool.  Honestly, the one activity I’m going to be doing a lot this summer is sitting around and reading, possibly with one of my aforementioned iced teas or wine popsicles that I plan on making dozens of.  Probably in my living room, with all the curtains closed so that no heat gets in, and the ceiling fan running on high.  Because it’s summer.
I may or may not have to find some sprinklers to run through at some point too.  Wouldn’t be the first time…or the last. 😉