Summers are short in Chicago, so we who live here learn to enjoy them while we can. The things I enjoy most about summer are not momentous or expensive, but little daily delights and experiences that make me thankful to be alive. Here are some of my favorite simple summer pleasures.
Free concerts in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Chicago occasionally gets things really right. Last night Dan and I took the train into the city, walked a twenty-minute trek to Millennium Park, parked our portable chairs in the grass, watched people fill up the park and listened to the music of Glen Hansard under a soft blue sky dusted with a few clouds and scraped by tall buildings.
Our once a year crab cakes. Dan loves crab cakes, so every year on Father’s Day I order some from a restaurant in Baltimore. Since we only do that on Father’s Day it has become a summer treat. With all due respect to Chicago’s excellent restaurants, we have yet to find one that even comes close to Maryland crab cakes. Yum.
Our once a year gyros. The Greek Orthodox Church just north of our neighborhood puts on a Greekfest every year, usually the last weekend of June. Kids jump in inflatable playgrounds while adults jump to music and sample Greek goodies. In a stroke of genius, they organized a drive through lane in which friendly people took our order, correctly pronouncing the menu items that we massacred, and then new friendly faces delivered take-out containers of generous gyros. Really generous and tasty gyros. Yum again.
The sound of lawnmowers, the smell of cut grass and the sleep-inducing drone of baseball games on television.
Going for a run/walk first thing in the morning and then sitting on the deck with my Bible, journal and a cup of tea.
An always energizing yearly reunion with college roommates.
Last night at the concert, an elderly gentleman started dancing along the railings at the back of the pavilion. The audience cheered. A young woman dazzled us with her hula-hoop skills. A couple was dancing in their little patch of grass and a man held a toddler up to see the stage.
Sometimes I feel like this little toddler, lifted up on the arms of my Father to get a good look at the stage of life. The look I got last night was of all kinds of people cheerfully enjoying a beautiful summer night, good music, and each other. I had an excellent view.
What are some of your simple summer pleasures?
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.” Psalm 100:1