Summer joys will taste even sweeter this year

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

With Memorial Day, the unofficial start to summer, behind us, it seems folks all across the country are ready for things to get hot.

Pundits are calling the upcoming travel season “Hot Vax Summer,” pointing to signs that summer in the U.S. could be, well, lit. There’s a ton of pent-up demand, as more and more folks become fully vaccinated and attractions begin to open up fully.

According to a story by CNN, the signs are pointing to a new “Roaring '20s” rolling across the nation. Bookings are way up for air travel, and so are airline prices; women are buying a couple of things they rarely needed last year — dresses and lipstick. After all, there were few places to dress up and head to last summer, and with masks, who needed lipstick? Retail sales were up everywhere, with clothing sales in March jumping over 18% from the previous month.

That summer staple — the outdoor concert — is coming back. Lollapolooza, Chicago’s huge festival, will be back this year, along with Bonaroo in Tennessee. We are seeing announcements of more and more artists hitting the road this summer.

I was one of those who recently made my first visit in to a restaurant to dine — a change from the days of take out that dominated the past year. After months of using my kitchen as a therapeutic place to nest, it was pretty nice to let someone else do the cooking — and the dishes.

Movie theaters, amusement parks, museums and art galleries, farmers markets and parades — this will be a summer when we go back to the things we always looked forward to.

This time last year, many of us were plotting ways to make our summer fun close to home. I planted a huge floral cutting garden, made a couple of trips to an isolated rural family retreat, and dreamed of days of hitting the open road, or the friendly skies, for a real vacation.

This summer, my calendar is filling up with family gatherings, weekend getaways, leisurely strolls through farmers markets and maybe even a road trip to somewhere I’ve never been before. I’ll be joining about 90,000 of my closest friends in the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, to see Garth Brooks in August. Lately, with one eye on the world news and one eye on airline websites, I’ve been tentatively looking at flights to some of my “bucket list” locations around the world. I’m still too nervous to take the plunge, but the thought of visiting somewhere I’ve always dreamed of is intoxicating.

Close to home, we have Flagfest and the Spencer Sesquicentennial celebrations to look forward to in a week and a half, and the Clay County Fair will be opening its gates again in September.

In the meantime, there are some close-to-home joys I rediscovered last year that will be maintained. My cutting garden has grown, with more varieties and more space dedicated to flowers to feed my soul. Movies on the lawn, played on a sheet hung from the eves of our old shed out back with a fire crackling, will be put into rotation; and I will certainly block out some days to head to my “undisclosed location,” compound down in southern Iowa for a few days of rest and rejuvenation.

I hope all of you are (after being fully vaccinated ) once again finding some joy after a long, long year of worry and sadness, in venturing out from your bubbles of isolation. Somehow, I feel the simple joys of summer will seem even sweeter after our time under the bubble of COVID.

Happy toes in the water and summer nights with flickering fireflies at play to everyone!