“It will not always be summer; build barns.” — Hesiod
As August winds down, it’s tempting to give up on the idea of summer entirely and race to an early fall. The season looked really different than what we may have hoped for — and what we sure felt we had earned after a most unusual and highly depleting spring.
I know someone living in the South who planned to be first in line to buy a pumpkin spice latte and then light a fall-scented candle that same day – despite the 93-degree weather. I get it — I understand the temptation to make a fresh start with a brand-new season—and if that brings you real joy, then dive in! But if you can hold off just a bit to try to savor the end of summer, I’d invite you to consider it.
We still have a little time left to do things we can only do during this season. Here’s my proposal: Let’s devote the weeks between now and the autumnal equinox (9:30 EDT on September 22) to do whatever summer means to us. It’s a perfect opportunity for seasonal renewal that recharges our batteries and sets us up for a more restorative and energizing fall. Let’s stop dwelling on all the things we wish we could do but can’t (I know I have!) and consider what is possible.
Take Your Break
For many, summer means time off—for vacation, travel, exploration and rest. In a recent informal poll at Ketchum, the majority of colleagues mentioned taking time off, even in non-traditional ways, was the No. 1 way they planned to manage burnout. I see a worrisome trend of workers not taking off accrued time because they feel it’s not worth it if they can’t travel. If you haven’t used your vacation days yet, how might you plan to take some time in early September?
There are great stories of people enjoying creative staycations—acting like tourists in their hometowns or neighboring communities, exploring their environs with fresh eyes and new perspectives. What attractions are so close that you may have taken them for granted, but can be explored afresh?
I’ve seen others opt to not go anywhere, instead camping out in their homes and yards. Removing the pressure to have a great vacation and doubling down on doing nothing may be just the cure some of us need most.
Delight in the Indelible
The pandemic has made it harder to connect and enjoy time with others; in some cases this is our last chance to enjoy time together before retreating back indoors. Where you can, take advantage of shared outdoor experiences with al fresco dining at restaurants, picnics in parks, drive-in movies, outdoor sports and leisure such as hiking, adventure parks, various forms of golf, and small group fitness classes held outside. How might you learn what’s available near you?
Dig into Planning
I’m personally a bit of zealot with regards to holding off on any official fall things at least until the equinox arrives, or even October if possible. Research on happiness has shown that planning ahead for enjoyable activities extends the joy—I’ve taken this quite literally and am already experiencing the uplift in identifying recipes, beauty products, home décor items and events that I look forward to enjoying when the time comes. We know it’s official in our home when my daughter and I make our first batch of our favorite pumpkin dessert.
In the meantime, here in my Queens, NY apartment, we plan to use the end of summer to:
- Watch my favorite end-of-summer film on our little balcony where we’ve managed to invent an outdoor movie experience
- Work my way through Bon Appetit’s list of no-churn ice cream recipes, starting with this one
- Make my family’s favorite seasonal dishes with all the tomatoes, corn, basil and berries I can get my hands on
- Enjoy my favorite seasonal scented candle, which reminds me of the ocean
- Make some edits to our work-from-home and learning spaces to improve the ergonomics and our energy
What will you make of this end-of-summer season? I’d love to hear.