Whether you're thrilled with summer's waning days or wish they'd never come, you might as well make the most of them. Here are five ways to help that happen.
1. Eat tomatoes …
Late summer is the seasonal peak for tomatoes, the time they're juiciest and sweetest, especially if you get your hands on freshly picked heirloom varieties, or cherry or grape tomatoes.
Slice them, and then add fresh basil, high-quality olive oil
, tart balsamic vinegar
and mozzarella cheese. Spoon the refreshing, flavorful combo on barely warm pasta or crusty bread, and make a dinner of it. Need more ideas? This summertime NPR piece
will make you drool and eat tomatoes in ways you never thought of.
2. … Then make and eat s'mores
Ice cream and s'mores
are summer's most indulgent and season-appropriate desserts. Ice cream is easy; it comes in handy cartons and requires no prep. S'mores … more involved. So if there's ever a time to go for the s'mores, summer's end is it.
After your taste buds have danced from dinner — the one that starred sun-kissed tomatoes — gear up for s'mores. Part of the fun is the prep, watching the marshmallow swell to Pillsbury Doughboy proportions, witnessing a chocolate block melt.
No need to be fancy: Get whatever marshmallows
and chocolate you like, then pair them with graham crackers, salty-sweet crackers
or even plain chips
(a little salt will heighten your gustatory experience). But be sure to toast your marshmallow to golden crispness, whether you go the distance with an open flame or brown the sticky squares in a toaster oven. Afterward, nestle the hot marshmallow against the chocolate, and press the two between your crackers or chips. It's okay if the concoction breaks, and if it does, pick up the bits with your digits and then lick your fingers clean.
3. Watch movies/shows/sports on tv or online
There's no better time to be lazy than summer, when all that heat makes you limp and lifeless. Yes, you can dip into a lake, pool or beach to perk up, and you probably have. But, you know, being in the sun for days on end isn't great for your skin, nor are most sunscreens
great for lakes, rivers or oceans. Plus, a waterside excursion could require planning, packing and driving, and when you're sluggish that sounds as appealing as grouting a bathtub.
So surrender to doing as little as possible, in the cool confines (I hope) of your home, and get lost in whatever you've been wishing you had time to watch. This is your free pass to pull up Sydney’s 2000 Olympics or view the ridiculous television show or movie you'd otherwise be embarrassed to admit to.
4. Take a nighttime walk
If you live somewhere hot, you might have been doing this since summer's start as a practical way to avoid the heat of the day, especially if you're an early-morning snoozer. If you haven't ventured out for a late evening stroll, here’s your chance.
A walk in the dark casts new perspective on everything, especially if you never visit your neighborhood at night. Be sure to depart when it's fairly dark, as dark as your circumstances permit.
Use the opportunity to look skyward. Light pollution or clouds might make it hard to see what's out in space
, but it's worth a try: Stars are the spots that twinkle and flicker, revealing shades of white and yellow, even blue and red. Planets hold a steady yellow glow. Saturn and Jupiter are visible this time of year, teeny orbs to the naked eye.
With some luck, traffic will be calmer than during daytime hours. If you live in a suburban or rural area that means you'll be able to hear cicadas and crickets and frogs, sometimes quite loudly. Keep quiet and walk. Get lost in the sounds of nature. And notice the smell of the air; summer has a distinct scent.
Finally, just look around. Notice how houses, trees and whatever else is in your area appear strikingly different than they did earlier in the day.
5. Go for a night-lit swim
If you have a pool, head to it just before bed (after all, you skipped afternoon swim time if you embraced the third tip).
Simply stand or sit, and gently move your arms. Then swim in easy strokes. Notice the sensation of the water against your skin.
Stand or sit again, or tread gently. As you would with a nighttime walk: Listen for the critters to sing their songs. Let their chorus soothe you.
To end, float on your back, and tune in to the sound of your breath. The sensory deprivation will set you up for a good night's sleep. Enjoy. Before you know it, you'll awaken to an autumn day, its sharp, sharp shift compelling but without the syrupy slow space that summer happily delivers.
Mitra Malek is a news reporter turned wellness writer. She appreciates all seasons, but has a sweet spot for summer, even though it means nearing heat exhaustion while doing yardwork.