Most everyone looks forward to summertime. Much of this has to do with the sweet memories of summertime experienced as children. As kids growing up in New York, my brother and I had freedom that kids of today, save those living in very small towns, have likely never experienced. Our rules were quite simple. We were to present at high noon, exactly on time-not a millisecond late, offering “proof of life” and to catch, as they flew through the air in a downward spiral weighted by the clothespin attachment, the decorated brown paper bags thrown by my Mother from the 5th floor of our apartment building. If this had been accomplished in a responsible manner, the next half of the day was ours to while away in freedom. In celebration of summertime and all the freedom to just “be” that it provides, I offer 10 ideas to make your summetime the stuff of sweet memories.
1. Take a hike: Asheville has some of the very best hiking available anywhere. From access to the more manicured paths found at the NC Arboretum to the wilds of the Mountain to the Sea Trail and the Appalachian Trail. Costing not one red cent, you can see sights that will warm your heart, re-connect you to the natural world and will reside in your memory as “the best of times” forever.
2. Skinny Dip Falls: Milepost 417 (heading south toward Cherokee). This place is a blast for children and those who remain so in their minds. The rocks are slippery with water cascading into a much deeper area. You simply sit and allow gravity, cold streaming water and luck of the draw to propel you into the reservoir waiting at the bottom. You land with a plunk, generally submerging entirely and come to the surface glad to be alive.
3. Enjoy a bit of rest: At our bed and breakfast we always note there there are some folks that turn a well earned vacation into work. They run to the point of exhaustion. The point of vacation is to relax and recharge. Clearly this does not mean making every moment couch potato heaven but hopefully vacation will not be approached as a forced march. That could defeat it’s purpose!
4. Enjoy a picnic: Picnics are quite simply fun! They become the unexpected. One is not choosing a restaurant where the location is known and arrived at. It becomes intuitive and adventurous as one searches for the perfect place. I think the food is less important than the place. One of our very best picnics as innkeepers involved a baguette, cheese and a bowl of fresh fruit. It was largely non-perishable, easy to pack, light to transport and contained good nutrition.
5. Walk to downtown holding hands: At Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast Inn is a 15 minute walk to downtown. We encourage hand holding as we feel it promotes general well being, aids in engendering romantic thoughts and sparks spontaneous moments of kindness.
6. Wrap your legs around a horse: Over hill, over dale on the back of a horse can provide some spectacular moments of beauty. It’s just a bit tense enought to be fun, it’s for most of us a new skill and it’s a memory in the making. Try whispering to your horse and see how that goes while you’re there.
7. Dine Al Fresco: Asheville is known as a culinary mecca. Many restaurants offer outside dining. Take advantage of that. Great milieu for peace and a terrific opportunity for people watching not to mention, in less time than we care to think about,the cold will be back and this opportunity gone till next year.
8. Enjoy a moment of sheer bliss: Whether this takes the form of some spontaneous and unrehearsed crazy thing you chose to do at the last moment or takes another form. Do something that you find great joy in and is not a part of your general life options. Tis the stuff life is made of.
9. Enjoy this Summertime moment: Due to the constancy of performance most of us operate under we become for lack of a better word, programmed to plan. The stress of meeting deadlines, more work than you could actually accomplish in one day even under directed, concentrated effort- It seems that the “planning of every single moment” is in vogue. Throw that away just for one day. Just be. Enjoy what is happening on your vacation right this minute without having to worry about what’s next.
10. Plan your next trip. We have been innkeepers a very long time and we talk to so many people from all over the country and the world. So many of them say “getting away” is impossible. They can’t. It isn’t possible. Too much work. They have so many days and haven’t taken any of them. Any illusion that we, young or old, know what’s coming next in our lives is simply that-an illusion. No one would say work is unimportant- least of all me. Running a successful inn is work. A lot of work. Play, while not as hyped, becomes the moments of our life. Life is our most precious asset and wasting that is simply not an option.