As the days get warmer and linger longer, my mind shifts to what summer has in store for us. The nature of a season so intrinsically linked to freedom and adventure makes it easy to want to savor its every ounce. Yet I’ve learned over the years that holding tight to a list of things to do can squeeze the spontaneity and creativity out of our days. Instead, at the beginning of summer, I’ve started choosing a word or phrase that can serve as a guidepost for our family. Typically it answers the question: How do we want to celebrate this season? Directing our focus toward an idea like exploration, curiosity, or even simplicity gives us a framework for how we ought to spend our time this season—which, in return, promises that it will be a summer well spent.
Watermelon Mint Lemonade Recipe
1 ½ quarts water
½ cup sugar
2 sprigs mint, plus more for garnish
5–6 cups cubed watermelon
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
In a large pot bring water and sugar to a light boil until the sugar is dissolved and your mixture is clear, stirring to dissolve sugar—this will be your simple syrup. Turn off the heat and toss in the sprigs of mint. Allow mint to steep for 15 minutes, then remove it from the simple syrup and discard sprigs. Allow mint-infused syrup to cool for about 10 minutes and then pour into a blender with the watermelon. Blend until smooth and then pour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher to get rid of any seeds and pulp. Add lemon juice to the pitcher and stir. Serve immediately over ice with a sprig of mint for garnish.
For the past few years, our family has made a tradition of celebrating the kids’ last day of school with a dinner party to kick off summer. Together we mark the end of yet another school year and talk about our hopes for the season ahead. It’s a time to begin summer with renewed intention. Some years I’ve made an invitation that I give to each of the kids to help build excitement for the evening.
In place of a list of things to do, consider what you don’t want to miss—or forget—this season. It’s a slight shift, but a powerful one. The goal isn’t to do everything, but to do the things that matter—that will make the kind of mark on our hearts and minds that far outlasts summer’s end.