I don’t mean to contradict my summer bucket list, but sometimes things don’t work out the way you plan. Maybe you suddenly can’t take that vacation or you don’t end up doing any of those hike you pencilled in the calendar. You can still appreciate summer in little ways, just by using your five senses. This recent discovery has proven to be an easy way to generate happy summer holidays.
A few weeks ago, I was hiking in a forest when the scent of pine suddenly washed over me. Silly as it seems, inhaling that rich, warm pine smell made me realize: It’s summer! I know, I know, it’s been summer for awhile, but somehow that moment crystallized it for me. Certain scents can immediately transport you back to a time or place in your life. But it’s not just the sense of smell. All your senses can be used to awaken and appreciate the moment.
The secret for creating happy summer holidays
The trick to happy summer holidays is to use your senses to recognize and appreciate all those little things that happen only this season. You can’t pluck fresh strawberries off the vine in February, now can you? Likewise, a frozen margarita seems out of place on a blustery fall day. On their own, these little slices of summer seem insignificant, but if you savour them, they last longer.
How to appreciate summer
So whenever I experience any of the following, I’m going to pause and give thanks. I may not end up taking a ferry ride or doing all those excursions I had planned. But I bet if I take the time to appreciate these little things, they’ll add up, and at the end of summer I’ll feel like it was a good one. Here’s my breakdown of what I want to savour this summer according to each of the five senses.
Tastes of summer
You don’t want to be tucking into a pot roast or a piping hot bowl of root vegetable soup – at least I don’t this time of year. Here’s what I’m going to relish lingering on my tongue:
- A cold, creamy ice cream in the cone. (Must be in the cone, not in a cup.)
- I’m not much of a pie person, but when I come across strawberry rhubarb pie, I’m reminded of how fleeting the berry (and rhubarb) season is.
- I make this awesome brie and tomato pasta salad only in summer. It’s super easy. You just fry up some garlic in olive oil, then toss it with chopped fresh tomatoes, basil and chunks of brie. The room temperature brie melts with the hot pasta to create a super delicious sauce. Be sure to sprinkle with parm before eating.
- Strawberry shortcake. The real deal, with cream you’ve whipped yourself (and not shot out of an aerosol can) and sweet biscuits you made (possibly with the help of Bisquick).
- Gazpacho is my all time favourite summer soup. I can’t make a decent batch to save my life, but whenever I see it on a menu, I get super excited.
- Birthday jumbo grilled shrimp. My favourite b-day dinner are these shrimp marinated in yogurt, chili, lime, garlic, cilantro and basil. We ate them last week and it was divine. Best devoured with a glass of rose.
Best summer scents
Call me crazy, but I love the smell of chlorine permeating the air around an outdoor pool.
- And coconut suntan lotion.
- Freshly cut grass.
- Campfire smoke. Wood smoke (and beer!) in my hair reminds me of high school parties, so naturally I’m quite fond of that scent, too.
- Best of all is the smell of pine sap warmed by the sun. Sweet Balsam poplar comes a close second.
What summer sounds like
I know it’s summer when I hear:
- Marching bands: Preferably the Calgary Stampeded Showband strutting their stuff at a small town Alberta parade.
- Birds trilling in the trees around my house.
- Ice cubes chiming in a glass. I’m like Pavlov’s dog and start salivating for a gin and tonic.
- Shimmering leaves from the young-ish aspen tree in our backyard.
- Gurgling streams.
- Country music, which reminds me of the Stampede no matter when I hear it.
How to feel summer
Feels are harder to identify. There’s the mental feelings – ideally a chill, sedate vibe I sometimes experience when on a legit summer holiday that doesn’t involve interviews or note taking. Then there’s the physical sensations you get when you feel:
- A cool breeze on a body part that’s been kept under wraps for too many winter months.
- The crisp, smooth sheets of a freshly made bed that lures you in for an afternoon nap.
- The bracing assault of a glacier-fed lake.
- The heat of a blazing hot summer’s day.
Summer looks like…
A spectrum of green! I love the bright leaves of deciduous trees mixed in with all those dramatically dark pine and fir. Then there’s:
- Turquoise lakes: Beautiful, but deceptively cold.
- Bikes on the pathways.
- Campers on the highway. This will be a fun test to see if I can truly appreciate them for their summer-ness or if I get annoyed they’re slowing down traffic.
- Flowers, a bottle of wine and a baguette in a bike basket (preferably mine).
- Dark skies, ominous in their warning of approaching thunderstorms.
What sights and sounds and other senses do you associate with summer? I’d love to hear some of your recommendations.
The feel of sand between my toes, the smell of freshly cut alfalfa hay (rancher’s daughter for life), the taste of mint harvested from my patio planter in most of my cold drinks, the sound of bees and the colours of all the wild berries growing in my hood: hucklberry, salmon berry and timbleberries.