A Few Favorite Things: The Optimism of Never-Ending Summer

A Few Favorite Things: The Optimism of Never-Ending Summer

In Michigan summer can basically be divided in three: June, July, and August. While warm temperatures often begin as early as April or May and stretch out into September and the beginning of October, there is a distinct difference in the way the seasons feel. April and May are spring. September, October and usually the first couple weeks of November are decidedly fall. Summer is bookended by both and the rest of the year is what I like to call Miserable. (Other people call it winter, but they’re wrong.)

June is the beginning of summer; the first third. It’s a time of quick growth and maturation. Pastures and field crops and garden beds shoot up in the beginning, and get right to the process of maturing. Seed heads are set, flowers bloom. And then comes July. July can trick you here. It’s the time of year when you can neither see too much evidence of the newness of the nature around you, nor too many signs of its impending slumber. For a moment somewhere around the middle of the month you can almost forget that this isn’t all there is. July is the January of summer. Where January may fool you into desperation at the never-ending winter, July can fool you into naive exuberance at the seemingly never-ending summer. And that’s how it’s beginning to feel around here right now; like it’s been summer for as long as I can remember without any sign of it coming to an end.

We’re all enjoying and looking forward to the second third of the season for its optimism — no matter how fleeting we know it will be. It’s always nice to settle into that lulled state of contentment; as if it really could go on forever.

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Read: Justin Dillon is a friend of a friend so I was sent an early copy of his new book, A Selfish Plan to Change the World, but the way I came to have this book in my possession does not factor into my recommendation at all. I’m just glad it was on the radar of someone I knew so they could, in turn, put it on my radar. This isn’t a self-help book, it’s more of a how the self can help book. I’m about halfway through now and thoroughly enjoying it. Where many nonfiction books fail, in my opinion, is in their dryness. But Dillon isn’t a dry writer. He’s a compelling storyteller and masterful at connecting dots in big pictures and big problems.

Watch: If you like light-hearted comedy and didn’t catch American Housewife on ABC last fall, you should definitely catch up on the first season before September. Katy Mixon as Katie Otto, the funny-flawed, middle-class Mom raising three kids in a wealthy Connecticut town is all of us. Sometimes cheesy, but always amusing.

Eat: Wild black raspberry season has arrived! (Colloquially called “blackcaps” in our neck of the woods.) The kids have picked several quarts in the past few days — with about half actually making it into the house, the rest downed right there along the edges of the woods — and I’ve got a Rustic Brambleberry Galette in the oven as I type. It’s one of the simplest and most delicious deserts of the summer and that’s saying a lot for a simple dish that has to compete with delicacies such as Michigan Strawberry Shortcakes. You can drizzle with honey as the instructions in the link above indicate, or macerate the fruit with a bit of sugar before piling it up on top of the crust. Your choice. Both are lovely.

Listen: Are you familiar with Shakey Graves? You should be.

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