Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer, Despite Itself

Berry picking on the Hood River Fruit Loop
So it’s the second-to-last day of August, and it’s raining. 2010 was the Summer That Wasn’t in Portland, but somehow, despite that, our experience of summer has been much more satisfying than last year’s (see The Best of Both Seasons, below). We’re all ready (and I mean I’m ready) for school to begin again. And I’ve heard the same from other families. Here are four things that I think made the difference:

1. We took breaks between camps. In between weeks that were crammed full of work for me and Mike and camp activity for the girls, we took the risk of having a week here and there that was, uh, unscheduled. Which was a little scary for Mom, I must say. Especially when Mom needs to be bringing home some bacon every week. But with well-timed play dates and help from family (and ok, if you must know, Walt Disney did his share too) we survived. The plus was, we got a little time that felt different from the regular school year, where we had the freedom to sleep in, meander the neighborhood, visit with friends and do as we please.

2. We bought a family pass to Wilson High Pool, which ensured we swam a LOT. Especially in the 3.5 days this year when it was truly hot.  Walking home with wet towels over our shoulders, smelling like chlorine and Banana Boat and munching bags of over-salty, oddly bright-yellow popcorn, we were creating memories we could anchor around.

Behind the scenes at NW Trek Wilderness Park
3. We road-tripped and camped. Summer without at least one road trip is like grocery shopping without hitting the wine aisle – it’s just not acceptable.  Our adventures weren’t epic – mostly to Southern Oregon; one to Eastern Oregon, and a couple of small camping trips sprinkled in– but we kept our family adventure cred. And we still have Labor Day!

4. We gardened. Well, when I say “gardened” I mean we planted approximately $46 worth of seeds and starts with the premature (it turns out) pride of being both self-sufficient and thrifty (a veritable recession-era Victory Garden is what I envisioned). That investment of cash and energy has thus far yielded 4 small, but might I say delicious, strawberries, one under-ripe cherry tomato (from the Charlie Brown Christmas tree of sad, spindly tomato plants – seriously, who grows a cherry tomato plant with but a single tomato??), and enough basil to maybe garnish a tiny cup of soup. But, hey, the girls had a great time watering. So what that I have to explain to them each evening why we’re not out harvesting our bounty for dinner like our overachieving neighbors? Just gives us more time to watch Disney!

That's my quick assessment. And I'm curious, how did it go for you? How did you feel about summer this year? Are you ready to go back to Fall's routine? Let me know - and happy Labor Day!


  1. Your garden bounty sounds similar to ours. We went away for two weeks and I optimistically left gallon freezer bags out for our house sitter, telling him that if there were more tomatoes than he could eat to put them in the bags and into the freezer. Ha! Now just days before Labor Day, the Early Girl tomato plant still has small green tomatoes on it. The Heirloom plants are still blossoming!

  2. That's too funny, Cindy. I think tomatoes had a hard time this year. After all, they have that crazy requirement about the sun...