July is my birthday month, so I’ve always held a fondness for it, even though the summer heat usually hits an unbearable level at this point. I appreciate this month more than ever now that I have a garden of summer crops; I may wilt in the heat, but my squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, and sweet potatoes are in heaven! As Zach so eloquently said, “The garden makes me realize what summer is for.” Here are some ways to embrace it!
1. Make hot-weather treats. ‘Tis the season for popsicles! I pulled out some old popsicle molds and blended some peeled and seeded cucumber, watermelon, lemon juice, and a bit of honey, then froze them into delicious popsicles that hit the spot whenever I come inside after a walk. I also love freezing chunks of watermelon, then salting them right before I eat them. Don’t forget drinks, too— peppermint-infused water, homemade ice tea or lemonade, sparkling drinks, and more!
2. Go swimming. Whether it’s a local pool, a river, or a natural water feature like Johnson’s Shut-Ins, this is a great time of year to be in the water!
3. Ask people to show you their gardens. Anyone with a garden, whether flower or vegetable, is usually happy to show off what they’ve planted, and summer is the time for seeing gardens at their best. I enjoy strolling through my neighborhood and seeing coneflowers, zinnias, and marigolds blooming everywhere.
4. Swap food from the garden. On a similar note, see if you can find people who are willing to trade food; you’ll both benefit! Even if you don’t have a garden of your own, you can offer cookies or something; or, chances are you know someone who is absolutely swimming in produce, and will thank you for taking cucumbers or tomatoes or zucchini off their hands. If swapping isn’t an option, farmers markets are still full of increasingly cheap produce for the same reason.
5. Sweat. Some people pay good money to visit a sauna, but the Midwest offers non-stop sauna conditions— all you have to do is step outside! Seriously, though, a good clean sweat is helpful for the body every once in a while, and you might as well embrace it. Sunscreen and deodorant both inhibit sweat, so try to find a shady place outdoors, or on a hot night. Walk, jog, garden, or do whatever you need to do to sweat, and when you’re thoroughly soaked, duck into a cold shower. It’s like a sauna in reverse... and trust me, you’ll appreciate air conditioning much more.
What are you doing to celebrate July?