I’m back. After a much too long hiatus, I have returned. This summer has been busy, as they usually tend to be. A few things out of the way, mainly a graduation party for our daughter and her orientation/registration for college (now, officially a Hawkeye), leave us feeling that only a precious small window of summer is left to enjoy. I love Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. There is never a shortage of things to do and really would not want to live anywhere other than an urban area. But, I absolutely hate the climate. Summer is too short and winter is wayyyy too long.No comment, PLEASE, from you inhabitants of the Great White North of Minnesota or the U.P. of Michigan. We already know that you winter snobs think the rest of us are wimps.
But, back to me and my complaining… My husband and I find ourselves trying to cram in too many activities during this time of year, desperately determined to enjoy summer before it slips away into the cold, gray months that make up of the rest of the year. This weekend alone has us going to the White Sox game (go Sox!) on Friday night. And going in style, I might add, in a sky box, as guests of good friends. Saturday will find us attending a Shakespeare In The Park (A Comedy of Errors), for which we try to plan every summer, though often miss out. It’s not that I’m a British Literature snob or anything. It’s just really enjoyable to set out a picnic feast and share a bottle of wine on a summer evening, while being entertained by some great comedy. And it’s free…can’t beat that. Sunday, we’re going to see a performance of The Sound of Music at the Paramount Arts Theater in Aurora, IL. Truth be told, we’re really going to hear the performance, as our daughter is playing drum set in the pit orchestra. And, we haven’t attended even one concert in the park, yet.
I know these sound like the complaints of, what my kids would describe as, first world problems. It’s just that, right around this time in the summer, I look at myself and think, “Wow, I’m still so pale. I haven’t had a chance to even get a slight tan.” And the worst part is that now the stores are pulling their summer seasonal items off the shelves and replacing them with…backpacks, lunch boxes, and notebooks. It’s so depressing. I haven’t even bought a new pair of sandals for the summer yet, and now the picked-over remnants are being sold on the clearance shelf. Some might say that’s good planning, but I’ve never been a savvy shopper. I only buy things when they are marked at their highest price. Not because I like to spend money, but because I hate shopping. So I only buy things when I need them, which is when they are NEVER on sale. I make it a point to steer clear of stores when they advertise insane sales, mainly because I don’t like the pressure of a one-day-only sale and the thought of fighting all of humanity in an attempt to purchase something that I really don’t want to spend the money on in the first place just makes me say, “No thank you. I’ll just wait until it’s full-price again and the store is empty.” Stupid…I know.
But,only a few short months ago, I envisioned spending this summer as I envision spending every summer: sipping fruity cocktails on patios with friends, sporting a chic new sundress and sandals, and showing off a glowing (or at least beigey) tan. Oh and wearing cool sunglasses, too. And, none of that has happened. But, that never happens. This time, though, I have a Plan B. One year ago, my BWB partner suggested taking an “Empty Nest” vacation for us (yes, husbands included…we couldn’t figure out a way to go without them, so…yeah, they’re invited) to the Napa Valley wine country come this fall, when our youngest offspring will have flown the coop to college. Naturally, as most plans go, ours has been thwarted by a family obligation. But, the dream is not dead. Instead of Napa, I’m planning an alternative trip, instead, to the beautiful Traverse City, Michigan wine country, after reading an article in the Travel section of the Chicago Tribune. A lot closer to home, Traverse City (along with Charlevoix and Mackinac Island) was a favorite vacation spot for us to travel with our kids when they were small. The last time we were there, Mary Kate was rolling around in a little walker, a few months shy of her first birthday. Yeah, this is the caboose in the family who’s finally headed off to college.
So…as I try to breathe in every precious moment of the summer before it fades away, looking forward to a trip to Door County, WI with our kids and then our nephew’s Labor Day weekend wedding in New York, I find myself being swept away with anticipation to a celebratory trip, laughing, sipping wine and not missing our kids. I will wholeheartedly and enthusiastically say YES to Michigan. I should probably let my husband know, though… Probably.