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My Top Five Tips For Loving the Last Days of Summer

Taylor Newman

Texas' marathon of 100+ degree days has rolled right on into August (when will it rain? WHEN?), but the end of this endless summer, my friends, is in sight. We’re heading off for a 10-day New England lakeside vacation later this week, and when we get back—whether the weather’s cooled or not—we’ll start a new season, riding in on the winds of change: We’re moving into a new house this fall, Kaspar will be starting a part-time Montessori program nearby, and my work/life/massage-school schedules are slated to rev up like whoa (Aaron’s also got a full plate this coming season). All of these changes are good changes, but... well, now that they’re just around the corner, I feel myself appreciating the summer a bit more, in all of its slow and sweaty glory. I’ve been shading, hydrating and entertaining a toddler all through this long season, so I’m hereby designating myself a summertime expert, and sharing—here and now—my top five tips for savoring summer’s sweetness to the last drop. Ready? Go:

1. Veg out. Like, local produce style. Have you been to your local farmer’s market lately? They’re pretty impressive this time of year (and will only get better into the harvest season). We’ve been covered in watermelon juice for weeks, not to mention tossing fresh tomato salads and grilling every fruit and vegetable under the sun. As part of my grand master plan to carry summer’s best bounty into the rest of the year, too, I’m planning to learn and master the art of preserving by the season’s end. I hooked myself up with a canning kit, cuz I’m a newbie, and have been studying up on the Ball website, which has tons of resources (printable, videos, etc.) for getting started from scratch (literally and figuratively). We’re about to be in blueberry country, so hey, maybe I’ll come home with a suitcase full of jam!

2. Take water play to the next level (or to the max). When we first moved here (this time last year), people kept suggesting swimming as something to ‘do.’ Like, it’s Austin’s version of “Let’s get coffee.” And this year, I can see why. Submerging oneself in water is just about the only way to be comfortable outdoors in the thick of the heat, and there are some really nice places to do that around here. There are also splash pads (think multiple water streams shooting out of the ground, with a million kids running around/through them); Kaspar’s a fearless wild thing when it comes to those. He’s also spent a lot of time playing in our condo complex pool, the tub, and the bathroom sink, this summer. He’s about to discover what a cool lake is like, and next year we’ll check out waterslides.  Sink or slide, I’ve come to depend on water’s entertainment value for kiddos and cool-off value for me. If you’re hating on the heat, go get wet. Not a new concept, but it took me a while to ‘get it’, and I guarantee it’ll improve your mood.

3. Watch a movie, indoors or out.  When else can you justify putting a movie on in the middle of the day than at the end of the summer? I not-so-secretly love The Fantastic Mr. Fox; Kaspar can convince me to watch it with him just about any old time (too bad his attention span’s only good through the opening scene). Movie theaters also offer a welcome break from summer heat, and for those of us who haven’t been to a theater in longer than we’d like to remember, there are usually lots of outdoor options during this season, too. New York boasts rooftop screenings of all kinds, foreign films in parks, and kids’ movies on the Piers. Austin’s Whole Foods shows films outdoors on Friday nights, and offers outdoor screenings in parks, as well. We set up a blanket at dusk, eat a picnic dinner and snuggle up with a sleeping Kaspar under the big screen and the stars. Family date A+. Summers only.

4. Wander (or run around like a freak) through a museum. I’d like to say that I recently hired a sitter and spent a morning alone—or with my most sophisticated friend— roaming an art museum, followed by lunch… I haven’t done that recently, but I did take Kaspar to our local children’s museum for their weekly “baby day”. I would have been sold just on the A/C, but big, open rooms full of stimulating, fun interactive exhibits (and nothing breakable) designed to get my kid’s crazies out? Baby Day, you complete me.

5. Read a good book. Or part of a good book. I only have time to read in fits and bursts these days— I actually choose to take the bus to work so I can have time to read at all—so I’m grateful for good content that can be ingested in bite-sized chunks. This book is my current commute snack of choice—it’s funny, honest, meaningful, and I can get through one of its chapters/essays per day. Perfect summer reading, if you ask me. It’s plane ride and beach-friendly, too. Summer feels more like summer when there’s a good book involved, no? (And yes, trashy novels also count).

So there you have it: my end of summer survival guide/bucket list/top five tips for rocking the season before the mad rush of fall. Did I get everything? What would you add? How are you and your kids spending the rest of this month, and what does your upcoming autumn have in store?