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Best things about summer never change

Looking back over the summers of my years in Superior and Douglas County, there are some things long past that I miss — Ridiculous Days on Tower Avenue, summer youth programs at the many city playgrounds, and the Tri-State Fair come to mind. Then, there are those things about summer, whether unique to our Northland or more universal, that will never change.

As we settle into July, there is no better time to enjoy, as the popular Nat King Cole song says, "the lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer."

Here's my list of simple summer pleasures that never get old.

Farmers markets

I've come to enjoy the farmer's markets more as I've gotten older. Getting my hand into the warming soil each spring is still a much-anticipated ritual after our long winters, but a few tomato plants and maybe some low maintenance zucchini satisfy my green thumb. I much prefer purchasing my garden greens — and yellows, oranges and reds — from the cheerful vendors at the markets.

More than just stocking my fridge with fresh grown veggies, or indulging in a home-crafted soap or lotion, the experience has become ritual. A cup of coffee and morning sunrise over the bay, then strolling through the still crisp air to peruse the ever-changing bounty offered up by familiar vendors, before taking another lap to make my purchases.

Going to the lake

Whether you're heading to the big lake or one of many smaller swimming holes within a 30- to 45-minute drive of Superior, nothing says summer has arrived like grabbing beach towels, inflatables, sunscreen, snacks and a cooler full of iced beverages, piling into the car and heading to your favorite shoreline for a day of fun and relaxation in the sun and water.

The beauty of going to the lake is that there's really little else to do but relax (if you don't own a cabin on the lake). Maybe you can play Frisbee, or throw a stick out into the waves for the dog to retrieve about a hundred times, or skip some flat stones if you don't have a dog.

Outdoor cooking

Sure, there are those who don't let sub-zero temperatures or three feet of snow stop them from firing up the barbie. But honestly, whether you char your favorite slab of protein over blazing coals or gas flame, nothing says summer like the scent of a searing steak, hamburger, brat or dog wafting on the breeze.

Campfires

Despite eons of evolution, we are still fascinated by fire. Glowing embers, dancing flames, the crack and spit of sparks, alone or with companions, sitting around a campfire beneath a star-studded sky.

Morning coffee on the deck

Maybe for you it's the patio or porch, and maybe you prefer tea or a glass of juice. For me, there's no better start to the day than being outdoors, with the song of the birds, the touch of a light breeze and the reassuring beauty of another sunrise — another new day coming up on the horizon.

Cruisin' to the drive in

You can still find a few drive-ins with car-hop service around the northland, including A&W in Superior, where you can roll down window to hold a tray of burgers, fries and root beer still served in a frosty mug.

Riding a bike

None of this fat tire, mountain trail, extreme cycling — just an old-fashioned leisurely pedal through the neighborhood or down a country lane — no gears needed.

Sleeping under the stars

The older I get the less my body thinks this is a great idea, wonder of falling asleep while staring into deep space, looking for constellations and hoping for a shooting star still calls. More often than not, a few hours spent after dark in my zero gravity lawn chair with a fluffy blanket to separate my skin from the biting mosquitos is usually suffices. I don't sleep, but I sure feel rested.

Summertime beverages

With modern bottling, ice tea has joined the ranks of perennial thirst quencher, but lemonade and Kool Aid still say summer like no other beverages. It's even better if you can find a kid with a stand and hand over a buck for a cupful.

Good times with family, friends

What's summer without family picnics, ball games, milestone celebrations, summer weddings, lemonade on the back porch, or a burger and beer in the back yard? Counting cousins — first, second and one removed, watching the old folks and saying, we'll never be like that, and then suddenly realizing we are the old folks we never thought we'd be. The lazy, hazy (and sometimes with family) crazy days of summer will live on in cherished memories.

Summer months can be fast and fleeting here in the northland. Make the most of them.

Judith Liebaert writes for Positively Superior and the Duluthian. She is the author of "Sins Of The Fathers," a crime novel set in Superior and inspired by a true cold case. Find her online at judithliebaert.com.

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