Finding summertime joy when coping with southern Ontario heatwaves takes a certain mindset. It’s mid-August and that means summer is nearly over. It’s time to engage in those summertime activities that bring joy regardless of the weather mother nature has in store. A few precious weeks remain for taking full advantage of this season.
Enjoying the outdoors
Because most summer days are hot and humid, sometimes it takes extra initiative to go outside. I’m fortunate to spend summers at our cottage. With a beach and the cool water of Lake Huron just a few steps away, why stay inside? Of course, sitting on the shade-covered deck is always an option if it feels too hot to sit in full sunshine on the beach.
Science tells us that well-being is enhanced by spending time in nature. Studies have shown that regularly spending time outdoors can reduce stress and insomnia as well as enhancing energy levels. Taking deep breaths of fresh air always calms my nerves.
Enjoying the outdoors includes walks on the many paths under the tree canopy formed by mature oaks and white pine trees. Because our cottage is located in the Northern tip of the Carolinian forest in North America, I marvel at the beautiful trees that have survived this climate.
Enjoying walks in the thick deciduous forest has me fascinated by the Japanese custom of forest bathing. https://www.ontarioparks.com/parksblog/guide-forest-bathing/ Forest bathing means a meander taking in the scents and sounds of trees — no phones or distractions. Even a few minutes spent among trees promotes mental health by relaxing the body and the mind.
Every June, one of my book clubs chooses ten books that we will read during the next season of monthly book club meetings. I try to read all of these books during July and August. I read on the beach, outside on the deck, in my favourite armchair, and, of course, in bed before going to sleep.
Getting through the selected book club choices leaves more time during the fall and winter to read for my other book club and also to choose books that I’ll read for my pleasure. There is a deep sense of accomplishment when I’ve finished all ten books!
Visits from our two grandchildren aged 3 and 8 years old are both exhausting and exhilarating. At the beach, constant vigilance is necessary as water play with floaties, boogie boards, blow-up tubes, and noodles is on the agenda every day. Walks to watch the boats going through the harbour are opportunities for conversation while we stretch our legs. When the lake trawlers come in with a fresh catch of fish, both grandchildren marvel at the sights and smells as unloading begins at the fish market.
In the evenings, we make cottage time special with story-telling, puzzles, or children’s movies. Playing games on the sandy beach after dinner, admiring the sunset over Lake Huron, and checking out favourite constellations in the dark sky provide great nighttime sedatives.
Grandchildren provide wonderful diversions. What a privilege to have them enjoy the family cottage as much as we enjoy it! It’s pure summertime joy during the visits accompanied with sadness when they leave.
Although fully vaccinated, I feel a degree of caution when it comes to socializing. I’m okay with small gatherings, mostly outdoors. Seeing friends after a long absence brings a degree of physical and mental exhaustion even with short interactions.
After a year and a half of isolation, I know that in-person events mean a degree of anxiety for someone like me who is naturally introverted. These awkward feelings cause hesitation about accepting invitations.
Because I’m not about to jeopardize my summertime joy, I don’t hesitate to determine whether people who I’m seeing have both doses of vaccine especially as new variants are causing a fourth wave of the pandemic.
Finally, summertime joy also means engaging in meditative hobbies such as knitting, yoga, writing and cooking. Dressed in cool comfortable clothes, with no worries about makeup and no fixed schedule mean that I can face the heat of summer days with a positive perspective. When I’m about to complain about the heat, I reach for a popsicle and remember that in a few short weeks, I’ll be looking for warm sweaters and woolly socks!