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Life Minded

It always irritates me when Fourth of July weekend rolls around and someone inevitably says, “Well, summer is halfway over already.” 

It is NOT. I still psychologically and emotionally operate on the school calendar rhythm. Including buying myself a few new pens and notebooks each September. If school doesn’t let out until the first week of June and doesn’t begin again until the first week of September, the mid-point of summer would technically be late July. Late July. Which is to say - we are just getting started on summer. Don’t rush me. 

When my kids were younger we would make a summer list of things to do. Simple things like biking into town for an ice cream. More ambitious things like “read 20 books”. Sadly they do not have reading on their wish lists any longer, although I do. And it got me thinking that I’m going to make my own list this summer, for me. 

Boat rides. We take boat rides. But I want to take a leisurely boat ride with friends. This summer I will boat slowly. We will have charcuterie and a cocktail with a citrus peel garnish and watch the sun go down. We will not be taking a dozen adolescent girls on a boat to take selfies. We will not bring 6 boys tubing fighting waves of nausea as we try to fling them over the wake. We will not allow children on these boat rides with Cheeto-dusted fingers and sopping wet towels to clean up after - we’ve already done all of that. 

Deck sitting. This summer I will sit on the deck. Just sit there. Listen to the frogs. Watch the great blue heron stalk their prey. Try to spot the owls. We have somehow just become landlords to our deck. We power wash it. We scrutinize it for damage or needed repairs. We drag out the outdoor furniture, wipe down the cushions, hang the string lights, sweep off the cobwebs and winter detritus from the spindles. Sometimes we grill quickly and wolf down a burger out there on the way to somewhere else. But we do not USE the deck for sitting and this year I’m going to let the deck take care of me for a change. 

Concerts. I want to go to the outdoor concerts in this short window we can enjoy the outdoor concerts. I have been trying to get to the Wednesday night music in the Excelsior Commons for years. Something always comes up. A practice. A game. A pandemic. A thunderstorm. This is my year to hear some live music outside. Much of my concert going in the last ten years has been indoors in humid gymnasiums watching middle school choirs, hordes of beginning violinists or the worst ever elementary students playing recorders poorly. 

Walking. I want to walk this summer aimlessly. Not tracking distance or speed or steps. Not setting a time limit or goal or destination. Not cramming in a quick walk because I’m supposed to. I don’t need fitness rings to close or walk like I’m being chased. I’m going to walk like I walked before walking became something to track and measure and sit on the bench on the trail to watch the sailboats pass by and measure nothing. 

Something about this summer feels different. Maybe I’m different. Winter seemed to last 7 months this year, that is likely a contributing factor. And it appears many of my summer goals involve sitting. Perhaps that is the secret to slowing summer down, to sit in it instead of darting from one day to the next. I’m going to squeeze every drop of summer out of these weeks. Summer fun but in slow motion.  

Jen Fortner is a freelance writer who enjoys asking friends and strangers far too many questions. She spends her spare time sitting in inclement weather watching youth sports, traveling, cooking, and searching for the very best baked goods. She lives in Shorewood, Minnesota with her husband, three children and the most spoiled dog. 

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