Monday, March 26, 2012

How I want to spend my summer

If there's one thing that's important around here, it's to come up with the best that the two main seasons have to offer and then to go forth and do those things wholeheartedly. Having goals is important. In the summer it helps you to hold onto every moment and cherish it. During the winter, it helps ease the cold and dark while making it seem not so long. In both seasons, I never quite seem to get through my list of goals. But would I really want to? Probably not. And it leaves plenty for the next year.
So how do I want to make the most of my summer?

Softball. Since I broke my nose playing last summer, I've had a number of friends ask me if I'm still willing to play this year, and if I'm still willing to play catcher, and my answer is, of course! Just, with a helmet and face mask this summer. ;) It sounds like it'll be the last summer for softball, at least with this particular group of friends. People are getting married, starting families, and one friend (the team captain) is leaving for the military next fall. People are planning to move sometime. Thinking about it makes me sad, since summers will never be the same. I'm so used to going to softball, both my games and Shane's, and summer will feel just a little bit empty without it.

Floating down the Chena River. For those who don't live here, lakes and rivers aren't really for swimming. They just don't warm up enough. But on a hot summer day, there are few things more enjoyable than floating in a raft down the river with friends. A lot of people bring beer, or pull in at the bars along the way to do shots before getting back in the river. My favorite is to drink iced tea and chat with friends, but I've never had a bad time floating down the river.

Camping. We go camping every summer for at least a few days at the 4th of July with my in-laws, so this seems like an obvious one. But I really, really want to do some other camping. I'd love to go camping and hiking in Denali, which I've never done. Isn't it ridiculous to live so (relatively) close to North America's tallest peak and never really visit? I think so. And it's beautiful there. I feel like to fully enjoy my state, and all of the wonderful things there are, I need to get out and experience it. Starting with Denali.
The other place I most want to camp is up around Circle, at the summer solstice. I don't know if we'll get to that this summer, but it's another part of fully appreciating my state. The town of Circle is at the Arctic Circle, so going there at the summer solstice means seeing the sun never set. True, in Fairbanks it doesn't get dark in the summer. But the sun does set. How many people get to say they've seen a day without sunset or sunrise?

Berry picking with friends. I know, I know, I already listed how many of each kind of local berry I really want to get in my post about preserving the harvest. But for me, berry picking is so much more than just a subsistence act. For one thing, it ties me to my ancestors and relatives. Both of my grandmothers are dead now, but they were great friends and avid berry pickers. Every time I tell my dad that I've been berry picking he tells me, "Your grandmothers would be so proud." My parents still laugh about how they'd all be driving out to go camping and have to come to a screeching halt whenever one or the other of my grandmothers yelled, "Blueberries!" I'm carrying on the tradition.
More than just that, though, it's also a time to connect with friends. Berry picking by yourself is, first of all, dangerous. The best berry spots are out in bear country so it makes sense to have people with you to talk and help keep the bears away. And through talking, you connect more with the people who've come along. You create bonds and memories with them which last a lifetime. That's just as nourishing as the berries you're picking. I'd bet just about anything that the idea and tradition of women as "gossips" has its origins in the gathering and foraging traditions of our ancestors, as they chatted during their gleanings.

Go for one long bike ride each week. Last summer, I didn't get out nearly as often as I would have liked. And since summer is the only season when it really makes sense to bike (I could bike during the winter, but it would suck) I need to make it more of a priority. This is an activity I sorely miss during the winters. The first long bike ride of each summer feels like flying. I come home sore, exhausted, and utterly happy.

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