It is great outdoors month and what a beautiful month it is. The sun is shining more often, we don’t have to bundle up anymore and it seems the world has opened up for us to enjoy even more activities outside. It is an easy time of year for Friluftsliv – remember? That Nordic concept of living? So what types of things do we enjoy? Everyone has a different way of celebrating the changing of seasons, but in case you are looking to try something new, here are a few ideas.
Plenty of garden centers have seeds or well established plants. Whether you prefer to get some flowers planted or start some fresh fruits or vegetables, a new hobby that keeps you outside is gardening. There is so much variety with what you can plant and where you can plant it. I am also on the lookout on pinterest for anything new I feel like trying. There are tips and DIY tutorials for almost anything. If you want to plant something and never have, look it up and do your best. Not every plan will live, but the practice of planting and getting your hands a little dirty is usually a welcome break from the daily grind.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Whether you are a gardener yourself or rely on the green thumb of many of the local farmers, fresh produce is easy to come by in the summer months. Try heading out early to one of the farmer’s markets or French markets. Because the produce is so fresh, the flavors come through with easy preparation. You can grill up some peppers, onions and mushrooms for an easy kabob and make some rice. Pick up a steak or some shrimp to go with for some protein. Think about using some fresh fruits (cherries, strawberries, even apples) and throw them onto some yogurt for a quick breakfast or snack. Even snacking on these throughout the day brings a little sunshine to your life. Added bonus – you are getting vitamins through a more natural form than taking supplements.
Dining al Fresco
Something as simple as eating dinner outside can be so enjoyable with the nicer weather. You can grill, but don’t feel like you need to! You can order out from small businesses or just plate everything inside and head out. We invested (funny word, because it wasn’t expensive) in some picnic type plastic plates and cups to reduce the likelihood of broken dishes and foreign bodies (come on now, I’m a foot nerd). By the time we get around to eating, the sun is usually a little lower in the sky and we have some beautiful shade from our neighbor’s Oak tree. We even might get lucky and enjoy a light breeze. Blue tooth speakers are easy to come by and also aren’t a huge amount of money, so putting on a little music makes it almost feel like vacation. That is, until we have clean up the dishes!
Our kids are always asking to have a picnic. All they mean is that they want to eat outside for a change of scenery. The food doesn’t matter and hey – if they get up during dinner and walk away, I don’t have to vacuum any crumbs up! You can pull out a blanket and sit out to eat in the backyard. We’ve done it and my kids are always asking to do it again.
Getting out a little extra energy (for the kids) and winding down after a day of work comes naturally when the weather is so nice. Biggest risk here is that bedtime gets pushed later because with the longer daylight hours means it gets late before you realize it! We are lucky enough to live close to the prairie path if we want a little more natural and quiet walk. If not, it’s always fun with the housing market these days to see the houses that are in your neighborhood for sale and say hi to the neighbors that have been shut up all season (and during covid). Make sure to wear good socks and shoes so your feet enjoy the activity as much as you do. The steps will add up to if you get to exploring new areas around you and checking out a local park or forest preserve is an option as well.
Have you tried running or jogging?
If you have been thinking about taking up a new form of exercise and you haven’t gone running or jogging in the past, now may be the time to start. If you have been running in the past, but have been reliant on your treadmill or the gym, trust me – running outside is so much more satisfying. The time running or jogging out side seems to pass by more quickly. I would also challenge you every so often (not always) to take out your airpods/earbuds/ear phone and listen to the breeze rustling the leaves in the trees or the birds. Look up and give a smile to someone passing by. Of course, stretch before and after your run. Maybe even lay in the grass when you get home to take in a little more of the sky we hardly ever get to look up at anymore. I would advise also to avoid peak times of heat and sun. This helps to reduce dehydration, cramping and sunburn. Early in the morning or a while after dinner tends to be slightly less busy too depending on where your feet will take you.
Cooling off on a super hot day
Some of the splash parks and pools are open now, but if you have a hose or a water fan and some shade that may be enough. While some are lucky enough to have a pool to set up (or that is a permanent fixture in their backyard), we are not. It means we get a little more creative and honestly we have less maintenance as well. A sprinkler can cool you off and water your lawn at the same time, which is nice at times when we go through a bit of a drought in the hotter months. If you have young or small children, you could try getting a large bucket to fill with water. Whether they get some cups and toys out and splash around or climb in, it really can be a lot of fun.
Explore a new place
You may have heard or read before about my recommendation to check out a new forest preserve or park. The scenery and wildlife is more diverse than if you go on a regular neighborhood walk. Take sunscreen with and be sure to reapply. Bring a good bottle of water to stay hydrated and whether you find a small lake to walk around or stick to the shade of some trees, a 20 minute drive to one of these forest preserve parks can make you feel like you’ve gone much farther when you are away from the noise of highways and streets.
If you are vaccinated and feel safe getting back out into the world, outdoor dining is a great option to enjoy the outdoors. There are a few things I would consider to be the silver lining of the pandemic. One of those is the pivoting many restaurants did to keep customers fed. My hope is that outdoor dining is available more than before 2020. Many areas became experienced in providing a comfortable outside atmosphere to dine out and some cities were able to close down parts of streets to provide more tables to accommodate this. There’s a lot of catching up to do with friends and what better way to do it than over a good meal on a sunny day?
Another fun and simple way to enjoy the outside is to go camping. You don’t have to ‘go’ far even. We have an old tent that we set up in the backyard and the kids will read books and play during the day and we have even sleep outside on a nice night. The tent allows a nice breeze through, keeps intense sun out and keeps bugs out. If you get comfortable with the backyard campout, going to one of the nearby parks, you can reserve a spot to set up your tent. The benefits of backyard camping is of course the quick access to better shelter and bathroom facilities if the need arises.
Maybe housework doesn’t sound like fun. Organizing the garage probably doesn’t sound enticing. But at least during the nicer months, these chores feel a little less like chores if you put some music on and are in and outside while you are working. If you want to build something, you have more space and the noise can be less bothersome if you are working outside. Again, check out pinterest and you’ll see loads of DIY projects to improve your home and curb appeal. And if it doesn’t work out, you can always post a “pinned it, nailed it” picture for your family and friends to enjoy on social media. Be sure to wear steel toe shoes when using heavy equipment or moving large pieces of furniture.
Whatever you do this season, make the most of the weather that we have. We all know that living in the Chicago suburbs means that it will be snowing again before we know it. While that type of weather doesn’t have to stop us from being outside, we will really wish we’d been out more if we don’t make use of the beautiful whether now. If you start up a new activity and experience any foot pain, make sure to evaluate the shoes you are wearing and if your pain doesn’t ease up within a couple of days, we are here to help get you back on track. Happy Summer and we hope you have a great one.