three things for summer.

June 28, 2023

It’s summer. New York City public schools are finally out. The city pools are opening tomorrow. My anxiety of a wide open summer without school and with only very limited childcare is rising at the exact same rate as the humidity, which is to say rapidly and as expected. It feels a little like suffocating? The problem is, I love summer. The streets smell of hot garbage. My kids’ legs are covered in mosquito bites and drips from yesterday’s Italian ice. I’ve already gotten reports of meltdowns from the handball courts and I’m currently trying to work while a three-year-old sorts marine animal cards on my office floor, AND STILL.

Every drippy ice cream cone feels like a triumph. Every outdoor movie and whirring fan is a tiny bit of magic. Ditto the bike rides and the mist from splash pads that cast rainbows around the playground. We’re going to cobble together piecemeal childcare and summer camp at my mom and dads’ for a few weeks and there will be fireflies and fluffy astilbe and catnip that takes over the garden. There will be more mint than anyone knows what to do with. Scratch that: I know how to make a mojito.

On a whim (otherwise known as two hours of researching which inflatable pools were, possibly, according to marketing claims, the least bad for people and planet), I bought a kiddie pool. Maybe a kiddie pool will solve all of my childcare worries and my feral children will simply splash in cold hose water while I revive my career and review copyedits on my book and sip an endless supply of minty rum? Maybe it’ll just cool down our feet a bit?

In the spirit of trying my best not to descend too deeply into a summery panic, I’m making note of three summery things I find worth pausing to do/appreciate, even when everything itches and there’s nary a summer camp in sight:

1. Running the fan. We’re in the season (and climate) where air conditioning is not strictly necessary and it’s my personal pleasure to wait until the last possible moment to turn it on, and then, only when necessary. For my patience, I’m rewarded with the sounds of birds through open windows, the music of wind through leaves, and the cosmic goodwill that I am not doing more than my fair share to further heat our one and only planet.

2. Making pickles. For too long, I associated making pickles with a whole lot of production. I envisioned hours laboring over a stove, enormous stock pots with boiling water, tongs and botulism and other things that just don’t sound fun. But a pickle can also be quick and easy and hardly more work or preparation than my morning coffee. I use one part white vinegar to one part water and I throw in some salt and a dash of sugar. Whole garlic cloves, dried chilis, mustard seeds, peppercorns, stalks of dill &c. other tasty things go in the jar with whatever vegetable I’d like to turn into a crunchy, briny bit of summer. They’re quick pickles, so into the refrigerator they go. If you are a person with a plethora of homegrown vegetables, by all means make a day of it, get yourself some tongs and a giant stock pot, and make dilly beans to last the winter. But if you’re short on space and time and homegrown veg, know that you too can make a damn delicious jar of dilly beans, very quickly.

3. Stashing swim stuff in one central spot. I have a possibly niche and likely irrational dislike of needing to scrounge around the apartment for the extra summery items needed to get out of the house in warm weather. I mean, I hate scrounging period, but trying to wrangle everyone’s swim gear for summertime outings feels particularly bothersome to me. So by the time school’s out, I try to be sure there’s a basket with towels and bathing suits (and a jar of cornstartch!) at the ready for summer splashing needs. As soon as it’s dried on the line, back into the basket it goes. It’s a tiny thing that makes me feel slightly, moderately, in control of things.

For the curious: I landed on an inflatable pool from Mylle. It’s not the most affordable and it’s still made of vinyl, but they tell me it’s phthalate- and lead-free and I’m choosing to believe them. Plus it comes with a patch-kit and an upcycling program, so it all sounds better than your average bear.

(Also, yes I did make that rope basket and yes I am very proud and somethings are prob just gonna have to wait til there’s a book on the shelf to show you!)

Anyway, what does it for you?

Happy (!?) Summer!

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  • Reply ramona June 28, 2023 at 6:44 pm

    Many say Christmas….but me, I say summer ….”it’s the most wonderful time of the year”

  • Reply AnnieH June 28, 2023 at 6:49 pm

    1. Leaving a spray bottle of water in the fridge to spritz ourselves with on those hot days when the fan alone is not quite enough.
    2. Gallons of homemade iced tea and plenty of lemon slices on hand.
    3. My sleeveless linen dress I’ve had for years that still looks good enough for the office, but is super lightweight and helps me stay cool.

    • Reply Sareena June 28, 2023 at 8:15 pm

      I pop one in the freezer before a park or zoo day then by mid afternoon the kids can spray each other with nice chilly water!

  • Reply laura June 28, 2023 at 9:53 pm

    My mom would dress us in swimsuits first thing every morning in the summer and then layer sundresses or shorts over us just in case water presented itself. Brilliant move!

  • Reply JC June 29, 2023 at 8:14 am

    This was very validating for me. I used to love summer…and then I had a kid and now it’s the most anxiety producing time of the year. The days are literally longer and there are just so many hours to fill, y’know? I survive by splitting days with my spouse (one takes the morning, the other the evening), leaning heavily on grandparents for childcare, and forcing us all into some semblance of a routine. Library Mondays and splash pad Tuesdays, etc. Some day summer won’t feel so claustrophobic but that day is not today, sadly.

  • Reply Sarah June 29, 2023 at 5:06 pm

    Number one on my summer list is probably my daily backyard happy hour with the dog. Once the shade falls, we head out to talk to the garden, get brushed a little (one of us at least), have a drink of some kind, read a book.

    Keeping some radlers/shandies in the fridge as summer beers.

    And this summer, my friend and I are determined to make the most of the free water aerobics offered at the public pools June – August!

    (Can’t wait to read about the rope basket! I took up crochet this past year, and similar looking baskets are on my project list to try. Would love to see what skill you used for yours instead!)

  • Reply Liz June 29, 2023 at 8:10 pm

    Hi Erin. Today I said “f*** it, I’m buying an inflatable pool for my child”. Thanks for doing the research and finding a less terrible option.

  • Reply Victoria July 5, 2023 at 1:38 pm

    So enjoy reading your blog. Life in the big apple with kids sounds amusing.
    I no longer have tiny ones but reminds me of the fun times. Summer fun .
    Packing up to go camping , summer barbecues .
    Setting up tent in backyard , campfires, and sprinklers to play in . Oh yes, wonderful summer!

  • Reply Rowena July 7, 2023 at 6:47 am

    I thought i invented the “summer basket” in our living room. towels, bathing suits, sun screen, mosquito spray – i throw in everything – but maybe it wasn’t just my idea. Thank you for being here all these years.

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