Summer Wish List

This is my third summer wish list (you can read the first and the second if you’d like). When I return to the task, I’m always struck that there was so much I wanted to do and didn’t do and so much I wanted to do and did do. I realized yesterday when ferrying a carpool’s worth of kids from a little camp that part of why the list is significant to me is that summer has this quirky, busy, timeless not-busy nature; it fluctuates—and so do my desires. For example, on that monstrously hot day this week, all I really wanted to do was work—in an air-conditioned room. Also, to eat GoBerry.

On a monstrously hot day when my third son had nothing to do, it seemed kind of nice to go to the co-op and grab him takeout that he wanted for lunch. As it cooled off after the camp carpool drop-offs were complete, I loved my time amongst the sugar snaps with my second guy, the young teen. He’d just completed his first week as a CIT type at the camp. In the patch, he told me he had big plans for a sugar snap dish. Of course he did. So, I realized that summer’s challenge—and the opportunity it offers—is to seize moments—or not have to seize every moment. Without the usual routine, with any luck, there are more chances for both.

A day later, he made a sugar snap dish, inspired by David Chang. Here’s my list for this summer:

1. Make so much jam the cupboards are full-to-bursting. I’ve gotten off to a pretty fine start with the strawberries. (Worry not that I may take umpteen photographs of jam and of the jamming process).

2. Be sure to have veggies to snack on prepared, either cut up raw or steamed, because that’s a nutritious, delicious thing that’s easy to do, but sometimes that ready-to-eat part eludes us.

3. Find one way to love riding my bike, be it bike path rides to Easthampton, Williamsburg and Amherst or quick rides to town when I don’t have time to walk or it’s too hot to walk or possibly for farm share pick-up depending on the company and the timing. Bottom line: make better friends with my bike.

4. Continue three house organization projects: getting Remy’s room to feel like his room rather than his oldest brother’s room he’s camping in; extricating more of my stuff from my former study where the oldest brother now sleeps; finding best use for the new pantry, the shelves in the dining room, and the shelves in the front hall.

5. Oh, clear the cabinet in the downstairs bathroom and go through the junk upstairs in the hangout room with the green couch.

6. Hold some sweaty babies. Make time to babysit for any of those sweaty babies the parents want to offload on me briefly.

7. Get everyone to sleep. I may need some help to do this.

8. Swim in lakes near friends’ houses.

9. Drink an insane amount of half-and-half iced tea—half iced tea, half iced lemon-honey-ginger—from the Woodstar (I like it three-quarters tea, one-quarter lemon-honey-ginger, though). Find a way to say that succinctly. One manager has a good codeword: “Strong.”

10. Given my love for strong half-and-half at the Woodstar, make many dates to catch up with friends over iced drinks.

11. Keep abreast of the Berkshires’ happenings as an eager reader of Rural Intelligence.

12. I interviewed Alana Chernilla for Rural Intelligence and she’s coming to Tuesday Market. Meet her in real life. You can also read about her here, where my not-yet-IRL friend Jaime interviewed her.

13. Encourage and support my gourmet chef of a young teen in his resolve to grow herbs.

14. Do my part to make sure that our friend’s blueberry bushes are adequately picked over by humans. I trust the birds will do their share, as well.

15. Pick peaches at an orchard.

16. Trek to Amherst Cinema in order to see a movie in a theater, ideally with a friend.

17. Go to have my toenails polished again. Do so soon, as this constitutes a small emergency.

18. I’ve sent a lot more real, actual, snail mail recently (mainly postcards). Continue the practice; it’s very pleasant.

19. Gear up for the two-week camp odyssey nine year-old makes by finding small things to mail (not food) and enjoy the daily postcard and letter writing ritual during that time.

20. Although it does not make the most sense from a smart sale shopper point of view, use the July sidewalk sales to add to my rather impressive stationary cache.

21. Work my way through the piles on the counter that is my office. Also, figure out what office supplies can go in the newly freed drawer by my workspace. While I’m at it, since my office is one kitchen counter, try to clear the other kitchen counters by about half.

22. Swim in multiple swimming pools and at both pool clubs.

23. Try to resurrect the read-aloud with the nine year-old. Be cool if the attempt fails.

24. Green River Festival, hmm.

25. Feel absolutely no guilt about the fact that country fairs, even the sweet Cummington Fair, however sweet, hold no sway for me. Don’t even entertain the notion of going. Send anyone who wants to go with full, generous blessings. Be grateful to avoid the loudness, even though the baby animals are, even to me, cute.

26. Attend some productions at New Century Theatre.

27. Love the boost to read I find on Twitter (#Fridayreads) to continue to start new books. I am thick in Bowling Avenue by Ann Shayne. Love it. I hope summer affords me time for more reading.

28. See all three Paintbox Theatre shows. While I’m at it, whoop it up on Paintbox’s behalf and invite the masses.

29. Get my hands into helping with the second annual Pie Contest at Tuesday Market (this link’s the first). Go to Tuesday Market routinely (done) and take photos there (done).

30. Visit at least one, ideally numerous farmers markets outside of the 01060.

31. Learn to can tomatoes. Can many tomatoes.

32. See art: I’m completely excited to see the Jay Bolotin show at Smith College Museum of Art. I got a sneak preview; you can find information here—and I’m pretty sure you’ll want to go, too.

33. Dish + Dine: this Berkshire series always provides feasts for all senses, so I hope to attend one.

34. Take a bunch of yoga classes—as Saskia would say, “Duh.” I happen to know there are deals to be had at Yoga Sanctuary, where I go and at Ananda, where I would also go, if I had more time on my hands for yoga. The tiny little drive is a deal breaker for me, but it might not be for others.

35. Last summer, I definitely got soaked accidentally on purpose. It was a goal, though, to get wet enough that my shoes squished. It was awesome, even though I was caught in a storm on my bike. I plan to tempt fate and run when it’s about to pour.

36. Speaking of which, I’ve run a teeny tiny bit and I hope to continue to run like that, infrequently and entirely for fun—and other than the one run seeking rain, only in the nicest weather. If the weather’s fine, I will participate in at least one race.

37. Spend a night (at least) by myself.

38. Eat some grilled peaches (talk about deliciousness). Also ahead, corn from Our Lady of the Butter and Sugar (Golunka’s to you).

39. Continue to photograph my favorite subjects: kids, farmers’ markets, babies, and chickens. Up the ante: get more photos printed.

40. Ride the bus with Saskia.

41. Very excited about one of the shows on my perennial Eric Carle Museum of Art wish list taking place this summer: Ezra Jack Keats.

42. Last night, I took a walk at sunset. The sky rewarded me for this. Aim for more pink-skied natural art walks.

Note: this list won’t get all “done” and it’s not a competitive charge, but with luck, you’re inspired to do something (or not) you wouldn’t have thought to do or simply to grab a view—sunset, chicken, or sweaty baby—differently. The trick may be all in taking a half-second more to notice.

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

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