Summertime tasks

Published 6:10 am Thursday, June 30, 2016

I use to-do lists to help me remember things. My list of routine household chores (make the bed, cook dinner, do laundry) is short enough to remember, but I have to write down everything else. If I plan to go to a meeting or meet someone for lunch, I write it down. I keep my lengthy list of work-related items organized by deadlines. I have a separate list of projects that are on hold while I wait for input from someone else.

So, when summer arrived, it was only natural that I start a list of all the things I wanted to do. Plant some flowers. Wash the windows. Clean the baseboards. Paint the living room. The list kept growing, and summer started to feel like work.

That seemed contrary to the purpose and spirit of the season. So, I tossed that list and made a new one. I’d like to share it with you.

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1. Watch clouds. One of summer’s most essential sights has to be fluffy cumulus clouds drifting across the sky, transforming into all manner of creatures and structures as they go. I’ve already seen a lumpy goldfish, an alligator, a dog sitting up to beg and a man with a pipe.

2. Blow soap bubbles. I haven’t done this since the last wedding I attended. Instead of the traditional tossing of rice, the bride and groom were whisked on their way through a gauntlet of bubbles. I recently realized I don’t need to wait to be invited to someone’s nuptials to re-experience the mystical beauty of watching shimmering globes of iridescent colors float off into the beyond. This summer, I’m going to do it all by myself.

3. Listen to evening’s arrival. At the edge of the woods, it’s amazing how noisy a quiet evening can be. As the sun sets, all manner of insects and frogs pick up their instruments and begin to play. Chirrup, churr churr, kee-kee. As they reach a crescendo, a whippoorwill often joins in. Sometimes a distant coyote adds a lugubrious note of drama. I’m going to sit on my back porch and open my ears.

4. Enjoy the scent of rain. When rain hits the soil, especially if the ground has been dry, it causes spores to be released into the air. They carry a distinctive smell. Sometimes you can even catch a whiff of it in the wind ahead of a storm. When the forecast calls for showers, I’m going outside to breathe deeply.

5. Make homemade lemonade. I’ve got a new, easy recipe for sparkling lemonade. Put ice in a tall glass. Add seltzer water, lemon-lime flavor works best. Top off with concentrated lemon juice. Stir. Enjoy. I like it unsweetened, but I prefer my iced tea that way, too. If you’re used to sweet tea, you may want to add a teaspoon or two of sugar. If I feel the need to multitask, I can enjoy my lemonade while I’m doing something else.

6. Feel the sunshine. John Denver once sang about sunshine on his shoulders, but I particularly enjoy it in my hair and on my face. I love the warmth of it and the sensation of energy seeping into my body. I’m going to stand in the sun and soak it in. After a while, a drop of perspiration is sure to start trickling down my back. Then, I’ll head for the shade where I can experience the subtle shift to a cooler temperature and perhaps a gentle breeze.

7. Take an afternoon nap. Although any random Sunday would be a perfect time to schedule this chore, I think I should tend to it as soon as possible. If I like it as much as I anticipate, I may need to do it several times before summer melts into fall.

If I stick to this list, my original roster of tasks may remain undone when summer comes to an all-too-soon close. But that won’t matter. The items on this list are the ones most important to me. They’ll help ensure that I don’t miss summer’s most crucial essentials.

Karen Bellenir, a Farmville resident since 2009, blogs for Pier Perspectives at and maintains an archive of past columns at She also serves as editorial director for Wordwright LLC, a company that provides services to authors, publishers and other producers of print and electronic publications ( Her email address is