Summer 2020 Reimagined

While Summer 2020 may be drastically different from summers past, we’re up to creating memorable outdoor fun with our circle of friends and family. As I sit in my office looking out at a cold white sky and maple trees full of new buds, I can envision in my mind’s eye the window open, a soft July breeze lending a voice to hand-sized leaves while birds call and insects hum. Heightened imagination and innovation are a couple of quarantine side-effects that we can put to good use. It’s what we do, so onward with a few ideas that may fertilize your idea garden.IMG_1992

  1. In a recent chat with my cousin, we planned a small family cookout for June, date to be determined. Our plans hinge on multiple factors, and may include new feasting practices, and elbow touches rather than hugs, but oh how sweet it will be to see those faces.  Talking and laughing in person again paired with more sunny days is a hope worth having. We also want to spend as many years as possible with our parents and each other. Mortality is on the table whether we acknowledge it, or not, so we may as well make Summer 2020 a standout with a focus on what we DO have.
  2. Kayaks, canoes, tubes, and boats can easily be enjoyed without exposure to a crowd of strangers. We can wave and yell to the strangers, “Any luck? What ‘cha using?” or just a nod and a smile on the river works, too. **Note of Caution**- river levels are especially high after rain and can change a meandering kayak trip into navigating small rapids. Water levels of a specific river or lake can often be found online, too. Here are a few companies that you may be able to schedule classes and tours with to try out kayaking in calm waters:
  3. For the past few years we’ve camped at a family-friendly state park next to 2 lakes with wooded trails, and neighbors.. lots and lots of neighbors enjoying the campground’s play areas, courts, and community restrooms and shower houses. Our 2020 campground is our backyard, with the luxury of  a private bath and shower. Within 15 minutes’ drive we have several lakes and natural areas for trail walking. And there’s a basketball hoop in the driveway for those games of h-o-r-s-e before it’s warm enough to go swimming. Here are a few innovative hacks for curating your own camping experience:
  4. Hiking/Walking and Picnicking outings also include a chance to create experiences that reflect our individual tastes. For us, an outdoor scavenger hunt could be fun with a simple follow-up picnic of hoagies, nuts, and seasonal fruit. Dozens of scavenger hunt printables and hundreds of picnic recipes can be found online. Location possibilities are plentiful in Michigan with 74 state parks, 1 state forest, and 4 national forests, not to mention hundreds of parks.
  5. Host a family/friends art show, storytelling evening, or craft fair/flea market. Those events on Facebook that we were interested in, but are now cancelled or questionable? Why not a family/friends Maker/Art Fair with created and discovered pieces that stretch our definitions of art, like a miniature ArtPrize 2020, (brilliant ideas for art projects that everyone can manage).  Story-telling is perhaps one of the oldest forms of both entertainment and learning. Stories create ease in uncertain times, especially for children, and memories shared strengthen bonds and deepen our roots. I’ve found The Storytelling Loop helpful for crafting children’s tales.
  6. Create a patio and garden that you enjoy. Always wanted flower boxes in your windows or big pots overflowing with blooms on your patio or porch? If you plan on mostly staying close to home this summer, containers’ increased watering needs aren’t a problem. 2020 is my year to create an outdoor oasis. Our grandson already helped assemble a gnome/fairy garden in a rock/succulent bed. Victory gardens, a.k.a. vegetable gardens are an excellent method for reconnecting with our source of nutrition-earth. Families especially can benefit from planting, maintaining, and harvesting fresh produce-from reduced cost, pesticide exposure, and environmental footprints to increased understanding and peace through a creative outlet.
  7. Helping others has never felt so urgent to me, but my usual donations of food and clothing aren’t being accepted. Of course money helps people, and there are plenty of online requests and easy giving opportunities if you’re able. The simplest, yet not the easiest, way to contribute is to consciously be a positive force in your little ecosystem. Encourage others and scroll past angsty political posts. Choose wisely if you want to be informed of world happenings, and remember to enjoy the life and love you have right in front of you, or right around the corner. Make plans. Send cards by snail mail to say, “I care.” Here are some simple tips that contribute to a positive out look.

Weekender Camping Tips

3-month-long summers in Michigan fly by not only for school kids, but also for winter-worn adults. Spring arrives with promise and summer memories begin greasing the wheels of vacation plans. Our choices this year were made easier by the Mr’s new fishing boat. While I don’t have mad love for fishing, my husband has enough for both of us. So, out of mad love for him, or maybe just madness, I planned a camping/fishing vacation at a state park with shower houses and 4 nearby lakes.

Not your average outdoorsy or anydoorsy gal, I learned a few things that will make our 2020 camping trip easier for me and maybe other camping newbies.

  1. In Yogi Bear cartoons an army of ants regularly marched away with food and even whole picnic baskets belonging to Jellystone visitors. Those ants are ancestors of a well-trained ant army at Interlochen State Park. Newbie tip-Don’t bring syrup camping; pancakes can be found at nearby restaurants. Secure ALL food in airtight containers or bags. Don’t assume a plastic tote will keep the invaders out. Learn from me so at least some good comes out of my underestimation of ants.
  2. If a grocery store is within 5 miles of our campsite, there’s no need to pack as if we are travelling to an island (our usual July vacation in my parent’s cabin). Old habits do not die, so I packed enough food for a week. You know, just in case. Waterlogged food, in general, is not salvageable.
  3. Make friends with dirt; lean in and don’t fight it or dirt can ruin everything. Skip showering one day to show solidarity with dirt/earth. Setup a screened tent (our “kitchen”) directly in front of the sleeping tent. Use an outdoor rug or piece of outdoor carpet between the 2 tents. Leave your dirty shoes in the screened tent.
  4. Building on #3-chances are, it will rain, so go with it and don’t become disappointed. Bring cards, a radio or bluetooth speaker for areas with WiFi, and a board game. Some of the best conversations happen when it rains.
  5. BE ORGANIZED. Camping may never be on my Top 10 list of dreamy vacations, but employing 3-drawer plastic organizers might render it mostly relaxing, almost turn-key, definitely better than living out of a suitcase or duffel bag. The less time spent looking for things is the more time we have to fish.

Above all-decide to enjoy sharing time outdoors.

Fishing Interlochen 2019

Fun fact: Interlochen Fine Arts Camp across the street from where we camped at the state park is the “band camp” referenced in the movie American Pie.