So we’ve made it to the 3 day weekend known as Labor Day. Which by all accounts, means that Summer is just about over. The kids are going back to school and all the pumpkin lattes are flowing. Don’t misunderstand me, I love Fall. I like sweaters and generally *not* sweating sitting still. Things like: not having the AC on all the time, and pretty fall foliage. But I feel like I didn’t really have a Summer this year. First of all, it was the first Summer in a couple of years that I didn’t participate in either kickball or softball with the PSL. I only went out of town for 2 days, and that was in August. So here, in no particular order, I’m creating a checklist for myself for next Summer, so I don’t miss out again.
- Make sun tea. When I first moved from a one bedroom apartment into a house, the first Summer there I must have made sun tea at least once a week, if not more. I mean, it kind of makes itself. You just have to get it out there early enough in the day, really. Understandably, you might be thinking, why don’t you just make tea? Why does it have to be specifically made by the sun? Well, I don’t have a fancy answer for you. I’m not going to pretend to rattle off scientific facts about molecules or properties that make it different. Or wax poetic about the captured sunshine and the feel of the warm bottle when you bring it in from the porch. It’s just nostalgic. My mother used to make it when we were kids, and we’d all get excited and suck it down like the elixir of life. It’s not too late. I may still get to make a pitcher this season, before it’s officially cold and damp. But I’m listing it here so I can check it off next year at this time.
- Go to Kennywood. Kennywood is the local amusement park here in Pittsburgh. I can’t say it’s better or worse than it used to be. It has some of the nation’s oldest wooden coasters, like the Jack Rabbit built in 1920. When you go, you have to have the Potato Patch fries. And don’t touch the railings in the walk through Noah’s Ark ride, kids spit on them. It also has water rides like the Raging Rapids and the Log Jammer. Which I loved as a kid, but now present their own set of problems. Such as, what to do about the wet clothing? Some strategies employed are: wear a bathing suit (nope), bring a change of clothing and store in a locker (awkward), go in the beginning or the end of the trip so that you either have time to dry off or you don’t have to be wet forever. Mostly, I just don’t because I’ve gone enough times over the years that I don’t feel the need to, plus I kind of feel like I’m wading in everyone’s pee. (C’mon, you know everyone is peeing on those rides…) It’s a day long adventure. You might pack some snacks, or if you come for a company picnic, you might score some grub from them at one of the pavilions. My personal joy is the skeeball in the arcade. Last time I went, I tried 3 times. Once the machines were down, then they were full, then they were down again. It was disheartening. My second greatest dream besides the bouncy house one, is to have access to unlimited skeeball. Maybe for a day. Any more than that, and I’d have a problem. At the end of the night, you walk through the stinky little tunnel, coated in the grimy dried sweat of the day, with the twinkling lights and the distant carnival music and feel satisfied that you have made the most of your Summer.
- Go to the Bloomfield Pool. This is the third Summer I have lived within spitting distance of the Bloomfield Public Pool. This is the third Summer I have not gone to the Bloomfield Pool. No, I don’t swim like a fish. But living in the city, you don’t have much access to these captive bodies of water known in legend as “pools”. Especially when the city budget shat upon Public Works such as the public pools of the city. There aren’t too many left. For me it’s reminiscent of when I lived within walking distance of the zoo for 3 or 4 years and never went to the zoo. I don’t want to live with that regret all over again. Plus, if you’re lucky you might have a Tom Savini sighting with his glistening tanned leather chest. It’s been known to happen.
- Let’s add going to the Pittsburgh Zoo to the list. Ah yes, the zoo. You walk in the heat to watch every living animal from Noah’s friggin’ Ark sleep, screw, or shit. It smells and usually, when I go do this kind of stuff, every special exhibit is shut down. But there are tigers and an aquarium, so everyone has a good time.
- Arts fest/Regatta/Pride: These 3 events mingle and make strange bedfellows in the beginning of June. Usually the Arts Festival is first. It’s 2 weeks long. It usually rains. Like it happens often enough to be a city wide joke. It engulfs the park areas around Point Park. Usually there are free bands to check out. I can usually find one or two little things for gifts for friends or family. But one of the things I look forward to most from this event? The food. The row of food booths lining the main street between the park and the rest of the festival has a little of everything you come to expect. You can get a funnel cake, or a gyro, or an egg roll. But the one I long for in my heart of hearts is the booth that fries everything, including but not limited to deep fried Oreo cookies. These little batter dipped gems come sprinkled with powdered sugar and drizzled with chocolate syrup. Something about frying them changes the texture to something more cake-like and it makes my heart sing. This year, I didn’t even go to Pride because it also fell upon Anthrocon, the Furry convention. And so I was pretty certain that it would be a shit storm of human bodies that I didn’t want to contend with.
- Go to a baseball game. PNC Park is a lovely venue. I am a conditional baseball fan. I don’t follow the trials and tribulations all season. I don’t really watch it on TV. But I do like to go sit in the sun and gorge myself on nachos and watch the Pierogi Races (a race in which pierogi mascots of different varieties run around the field). Used to be, when the Pirates were flailing about season to season, you could get really cheap tickets, usually also shirts or hats and really cheap (but delicious) hot dogs. Season subscribers were often unloading tickets or you’d get a good group rate. These days such offers are rare, but I’d like to go next year regardless.
- Have a cook out. This year I bought a small grill. We used it once. I’d like to use it again.
- Go to more farmer’s markets. They happen every week in the city, the day varying neighborhood to neighborhood. But I need to go at least one more time to stock up on my honey supply for the winter. This year we did manage to make a fantastic leek soup early on in the season. But I also like getting homemade pierogies or other local treats from local vendors that roast coffee or even make wine.
So while I’ll be thrilled to pumpkin all the things and squash until I can’t squash no more, I regret not making every moment of this Summer the best it could have been. Who knows what adventures the fall and winter will hold for me, but nebulous sky deity willing, I’ll have next Summer to conquer.