Rick Millians

Rick Millians

I love waking up early in the summer, watching the patterns on the lake as the water flows in or out. Sometimes there's fog before the rising sun burns it off.

Dusk is as spectacular as dawn. The crickets and cicadas form their own percussion section like claves and castanets, and the frogs chime in after the sun dips down in the west.

Here are 10 other things I like about summer:

GREEN GRASS

I love cutting it, smelling it, and rolling in it. 

You can roll down a grassy knoll at any age, but now I'll stick to watching my granddaughters do it as they giggle with delight. 

GRILLING OUT

Hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, steaks, ribs and even vegetables. In the summer, nothing tastes better than food cooked on the grill. 

ICE CREAM

We were talking just the other day. When's the last time we had some homemade peach ice cream?

I don't even know if we have a churn that works. If we don't, I'm going to go buy one — manual or electric, it doesn't matter — so we can make some soon.

OUTDOOR CONCERTS

We could have been Jimmy Buffett "Parrotheads," but, nooooo, we became "Fanilows" instead. 

We used to go to Riverbend, an outdoor venue just outside Cincinnati on the Ohio River. It has a covered seating area as well as a vast lawn where people can put down their blankets or bring lawn chairs and sit under the stars. 

Wanda and I and several other couples went to our first Barry Manilow concert because, heck, we knew all his songs. ("I Write the Songs," "Mandy," "Weekend in New England," "Can't Smile Without You," "Copacabana," and on and on. Don't tell me you don't know those songs!)

Then it became sort of a running joke. "Are we going to the Barry Manilow concert again this summer?"

So we did — for more years than I can count. The post-concert pub down the street wasn't bad, either.

WATERMELONS

Cold, not-too-ripe, but just-ripe-enough, watermelons are hard to beat. Afterward, you can have a watermelon rind battle and jump in the lake to clean off.

CANNING AND FREEZING

Here's our summer routine, in order: Freeze strawberries, freeze corn, can sweet cucumber pickles, freeze peaches, freeze butter beans, freeze peas. 

It doesn't matter if two freezers and a closet are already full. We're going to do more. Of course, we eat a lot of each while it's still fresh.

Pickle making was on the schedule this week. I was sent to Kroger to buy pickling lime, a gallon of white vinegar and a bag of sugar.

I asked an eager young clerk at Kroger to help me find pickling lime.

"Pickling lime," he said, "what's that?"

I went to Food Depot, and I think I got the last bag.

GOLF

Late in the day when the shadows are long, there is no better place to be than on a golf course. You can hardly see your ball. (That happens to me in broad daylight, too, because I don't know if the ball is going left or right or, occasionally, straight.)

Deer and other animals might venture out of the woods. You might have to dodge a sprinkler. It all adds up to an overload of sights, sounds and smells. 

VACATIONS

We were supposed to meet friends at the beach in Florida next week, but the spike in coronavirus cases scared us away. We'll go later.

But along the way, I have been fortunate to see sunrises and sunsets at some of the most beautiful places in our great country.

I've seen the sun rise over Bar Harbor, Maine — the Eastern-most point in the U.S. where the sun rises before 5 a.m., and at Niagara Falls. I've seen sunsets from as far west as you can go on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and at Old Faithful in Yellowstone. Stunning. 

SHADE TREES

My dogs Lulu and Uber love to soak up the sun's rays. As for me, massive hardwood trees provide the shade that makes southern summers bearable.

BASEBALL 

Baseball games are the perfect background noise for the summer. The "unhappy totals," as the late Skip Caray used to say after a Braves loss, are 0 games played so far, 60 to be played. 

Thank goodness baseball's coming back — at least on TV — at the end of this month. Summer's not the same without it.

Rick Millians, a 1970 Baldwin High graduate, worked at newspapers in Georgia, Ohio and South Carolina before retiring. He can be reached at rdmillians@aol.com.

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