Summer is my favorite season, a time of fresh berries, long walks around the Minneapolis lakes, ice cream, corn on the cob, late evening runs through the park, and dinner on our patio. I try to experience as many quintessential summer things as possible, so that when the weather starts getting cooler I can look back without a nagging feeling that I squandered my time. I know that this is always true: one of the few certainties in life is that we each have a specific yet-to-be-determined number of Junes and Novembers and Aprils, a limited number of Christmases and birthdays and March 22nds. But something about the end of summer makes me cognizant of the relative brevity of human existence in a way that nothing else does.
So unlike most Minnesotans, I refuse to accept Labor Day as the official end of summer. September can usually be relied on for least a few bonus summer days (the temperature hit 90 degrees last Monday, September 9--a full week after Labor Day). However, by now the sun is setting noticably sooner, bushels of apples are appearing at the farmer's markets, and when we left for work this morning it was a chilly 45 degrees. Denial can only take me so far. So I decided to look back and sum up what we did this summer:
- We kicked off the season with a Scandinavian-inspired Midsummer party.
- We picked 45 pounds of strawberries and 9 pounds of blueberries at Bauer Berry Farm. Most of them ended up in our chest freezer, and they will be a delicious taste of summer during the winter months.
- We planted an herb garden. Since we live in a townhome, our cultivatable land consists of a one foot by two foot patch of dirt alongside our sidewalk, but we crammed in basil, cilantro, parsley, dill, rosemary, tarragon, chives, stevia, and two garden gnomes.
- I browsed the Nicollet Mall Farmer's Market every Thursday. For me, the farmer's market is one of the very best things about working in downtown Minneapolis.
- We took a mini vacation to Stillwater, where we stayed at a lovely B&B, went on a food tour, and ate giant ice cream cones.
- I ran the Hot Dam 5K. I was hoping to beat my personal best time and run the race in under 27 minutes. However, I got cut off by a train less than a quarter mile from the finish line (I'm still not sure why anyone would set up a 5K course that features a railroad crossing). But it was still a beautiful run across the Stone Arch Bridge and along the Mississippi River.
- We rode the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line. Yes, the ride is only about 15 minutes round trip, but you get to ride a 100-year old streetcar, complete with vintage advertisements.
- We dined outside at Sunsets, the Bayside Grille, and Muffuletta.
- We watched two Twins games from the suites at Target Field (no, Mike and I are not in the one percent. I am fortunate to have a very generous employer). In addition to a great view and comfortable seats, there was also a fabulous buffet of ball park food and fancy desserts.
- We walked around each of the Minneapolis lakes (Calhoun, Harriet, Nokomis, and Isles) at least once. The health effects of walking around Lake Harriet were somewhat cancelled out by the fact that I discovered the truffle popcorn at the Bread & Pickle.
- We volunteered at Irish Fair on St. Paul's Harriet Island and stuck around afterwards to rock out to Gaelic Storm.
- We spent a Saturday morning at the Mill City Farmer's Market.
- We ate cheese curds and food on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair.
- I discovered some new favorite flavors at Sebastian Joe's Ice Cream: honey cinnamon crisp and chocolate cinnamon pretzel.
- We traveled to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, where we saw bison, elk, and bighorn sheep; warmed ourselves in the steam from geysers and hot springs; hiked to a glacier; and ate some incredible huckleberry pie.
Looking at the finished list and reflecting on the time we spent outside, the different places we traveled, and (since this is a food blog, after all) the meals we shared gives me a sense of contentment. We made the most of the summer of 2013; now on to the colorful leaves, bountiful produce, and crisp air of fall.