The Summer List

Summer. I bask in anticipation, thinking of longer days, warm sand, sunshine, and plenty of time for fun and family. But then it whizzes by and suddenly it’s time to buy school supplies. I find myself in a partial state of shock, wondering where the time went. Why didn’t we go camping like we planned in May? Or on a road trip? Why didn’t the kayak leave the garage all summer again? We seemed to either run out of time, or simply forgot about things.  And then it was over.

I am a list maker. Over time, my lists have morphed from scraps of paper on the kitchen counter to organized, color coded notes on my iPhone. I make them religiously and would be lost without them.  Einstein once said “Paper is to write things down that we need to remember. Our brains are used to think.” Like Einstein, I don’t want to tie up my mind with things I need to remember. Tired of either forgetting what it was we wanted to do, or not carving out the time, I decided to create a “summer list”.

I doubt list-making is genetic, but having been raised by a list-maker, my kids quickly embraced the idea. Crayon in hand, my 7-yr old daughter wrote down items that were important to her. Ice cream at Oink’s. Smore’s. The zoo. Visiting cousins in Chicago. My kindergartner added his ideas: playing at the splashpad, camping, fishing, going to music in the park. As for me, I essentially wanted to be a tourist in our own town, and do what tourists come here to do but which we, despite actually living here, never manage to engage in (it’s like when you have a hot tub but never use it; same concept when you live in a tourist area). I wanted to kayak the Galien River. Attend local festivals. Hike the dunes. Go on a wine tour. The list ranged from easy things to activities that might take a little more legwork. I wanted to keep it doable, perhaps require some planning, but be fun and memorable at the same time.

It was a great summer. Each time we crossed an item off the list, we felt happy and satisfied.  No more vacuum of time, no more regrets, and, best of all, my children were learning that life is what you make of it.

Each Spring we make a new list. Having the kids write it in crayon keeps it whimsical and reminds me that it is supposed to be fun and relaxed. It inspires us to expand our horizons, go on new adventures, and learn new skills. An unexpected bonus is that years later, we can look at the list and fondly reminisce about long forgotten moments. We can actually recall how we spent our summer!  Who knows, maybe this summer I will finally stand-up paddle board on Lake Michigan. It’s on my list.