Labor Day traditionally marks the end of summer, but I’m not done yet.
In June, as I graduated, I proclaimed it the “Summer of Crysta.” I was going to spend as much time as possible outdoors and take full advantage of a summer with no schoolwork and plenty of free time.
Of course, the second I graduated I was sucked into plenty of new things. But I’ve still managed to have a very satisfying summer. I wish it didn’t have to end. While I echo Katie Leigh’s sentiment that some of the “best living” of this summer will remain unblogged, tucked into my memory and sure to conjure a smile even on the darkest winter day, here are a few highlights:
New bike: I bought a new bike in June and have been spending a lot of time on it. (Not enough, though.) It’s more comfortable than the 19-year-old ride it replaced, and it’s nice to have a fully functional piece of equipment.
Concerts, concerts, concerts: I’ve attended at least a dozen outdoor concerts this summer, from the Wing Park Concert series to a rain-shortened 7th Heaven concert at Brewfest, to Wilco at Kane County Cougars Stadium and Death Cab for Cutie in Grant Park. There’s no better way to spend a summer evening. Two weeks ago, as the Wing Park Concert series ended with the US Air Force Mid-America Jazz Band, the breeze hinted at autumn, and the sunset much earlier, leading me to ride home in the dark. Great way to end the summer
Exploring: I’ve explored more this summer than any other (and I’m not done yet). I finally did the Devil in the White City Tour, discovering the gorgeous Wooded Isle in the process. (Despite living in Hyde Park for three years, I never knew it was there!) I went on a foodie tour of Bucktown and Wicker Park, sampling six restaurants with a heavy side of history. I’ve visited several forest preserves that I’d driven by for years, seeing owls and a buck and a turkey vulture.
Hammock time: My favorite purchase from last summer was the hammock that spans a good portion of my backyard. I can’t even count how many hours I’ve spent in it this summer, reading (for fun!) in the sunshine, or just watching the stars come out at night and feeling very small.
Reading: Now that I don’t have professors assigning mountains (or pounds) of reading material, I’ve been able to pick and choose what I read. I’ve been overwhelmed by the options and have several competing piles of “next to read” scattered around the house. So far, these are the ones I’ve completed:
This Side of Paradise – F Scott Fitzgerald – “I know myself, but that is all.” So very good.
The Myth of the Garage: And Other Minor Surprises – Chip & Dan Heath (available for free download) – This collection of essays from the authors of “Made to Stick” was full of interesting little tidbits and intriguing columns about the inevitability of $300 socks and why to trust your gut instead of your brain.
The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd – Quick novel, well-written and engaging.
The Big Short – Michael Lewis – I’ve been meaning to read this for at least a year. It was tough going, but interesting and gave me a new understanding for how our economy works – and how easily manipulated it is/was.
The Shipping News – Annie Proulx – I’d never thought much about Newfoundland and its people, but this bleak, raw, harrowing story of loss and loneliness opened my eyes.
Women of the Silk – Gail Tsukiyama – Fascinating look at women working in the textile industry in 1910s China. Girls were often sold into the factories to help their families make ends meet, and the story chronicles how they began to stand up for their independence.
Consider the Lobster (and other essays) – David Foster Wallace – My first foray into Wallace proved fascinating, with lots of food for thought about boiling lobsters, the defense of the English language, the adult film industry, and more.
The Girl with Curious Hair – David Foster Wallace – This collection of short stories contained the same fantastic writing as his non-fiction, but some of the stories were just…odd. I’m very glad I made the effort, though.
And I’m at various points in these:
Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? – Lou Gerstner – Very interesting from my IBMer perspective.
Summer – Edith Wharton – one of my very favorite novels… as I bike through prairies, it always pops to mind
OK: The Improbable Story of America’s Greatest Word – Allan Metcalf – A history of a phrase? Why not?
The Innocents Abroad – Mark Twain. Twain spends a couple of months on a cruise around Europe. Hilarity ensues.
As summer winds down, I still have a couple more adventures tucked up my sleeve, and plenty of fresh tomatoes left to eat. What has your favorite part of the summer been? What’s still on tap?