|Wild mulberries, free for the taking|
It’s that time of year again... when you bless the inventors of air conditioning! (We try to keep our house at 80, but have a window air conditioner for nighttime.) But seriously, there are lots of ways to enjoy this month that brings us into the official start of summer. For instance...
1. Observe the summer solstice. The European winter solstice celebrations have been immortalized in our celebration of Christmas, but the summer solstice got lost in the shuffle. Time to bring it back! The solstice traditionally involved a bonfire, feasting, and communing with nature, so take some time to do one or all of the above on June 21st. (See more fun ideas here.)
2. Start carrying a water bottle. No, you won’t die if you go out without one, but as the heat intensifies, having water close to hand is helpful. There’s no need to waste a bunch of plastic, though! Get a reusable water bottle and get into the habit of carrying it around. I use a Nalgene my brother brought me from Yellowstone, but you can almost always find water bottles at thrift shops. Or you can follow Zach’s lead and use an old kombucha bottle.
3. Go berry-picking. If you live in the Northwest, berry-picking is as easy as walking to, well, pretty much anywhere, and grabbing delicious blackberries straight off the vine. In the Midwest, we have a glut of mulberries, which are less tasty but still fun to pick. Or you could try a U-Pick farm! (Here’s a list of U-Picks in the St. Louis area.)
4. Catch fireflies. It’s prime season for fireflies— they light up the woods like crazy around our house! (If you happen to live west of the Rockies, I’m sorry that you don’t get fireflies. Maybe you can eat some wild blackberries to console yourself.)
5. Choose humanely-raised meat for a barbecue. You guys know I have a thing with meat— I’ve written about it here, here, and here. And while I love barbecues, I think there are better ways to celebrate that buying cheap meat made from an animal who lived a life of suffering. Ideally, it’s best to buy meat from a local farmer whom you trust (for St. Louisans, check out the package Thies Farm offers, and for everyone, look at EatWild for more ideas), but in a pinch, choose something labeled “Organic,” “Grass-Fed,” or “Humane Certified.” Yes, it’s a lot more expensive than CAFO meat, but you could make up for it by buying less meat and filling in with side dishes.
How are you going to celebrate June?