Tag Archives: Summer

3 Things I Love About Summer Strolls

It’s time for the third instalment in my series about hiking – or, in this case, strolling –  during the various seasons. If you’re a new reader or would like to reread my previous posts, I’ve also written about the things I love about spring and autumn hikes. Eventually, I’ll finish this series off with a post about winter walks.

Why have I switched from talking about hiking to strolling for the summer post?

Well, July and August in Toronto are extremely hot and humid. We’ve had multiple days so far in July where the humidity levels were well above 70% and the high temperature felt like 40 Celcius (104 Fahrenheit) or more.

While some Canadians do go out hiking in that weather, I’m not one of them. Spring and autumn are best for brisk outdoor exercise. Summer is better for swimming during the daytime and walking at a slower pace either before or after the hottest part of the day.

With that being said, there is still plenty to love about walking outside during this time of the year.

The Long, Warm Evenings

Sunset in Toronto generally happens between 5 and 6 pm in the winter. During the summer, sunset is at about 9 pm. When you combine those extra hours of daylight with evening weather that feels like 25 C (77 F) instead of -25 C (-13 F) after the sun goes down, it’s no wonder that summer evenings can be such pleasant times to walk.

I spent much of my childhood in a climate similar to the one that Toronto has that I was about seven years old the first time I realized summer had much more daylight than winter.

It was only after running outside for hours after dinner did I realize that the sun still hadn’t set yet that day. When I asked my mother if the sun was never going to set again, she laughed and explained the summer solstice to me in more detail than I’d known before. Her explanation gave me a sense of wonder about the world that I still feel every summer as an adult.

Winter days are short, cold, and punctuated by many hours of darkness before the sun has any hope of rising again. Summer feels magical in contrast, especially if you’re lucky enough to spend plenty of time outdoors during the evening.

The Friendly Background Noise

Yes, I know I mentioned my love of peace and quiet when I talked about spring hikes earlier this year. The interesting thing about walking during the summer is how noisy it can be!

Our streets come alive after the temperatures drop outdoors. After a long, hot day, many people spill out onto the streets to take their dog for a walk, let their children burn off energy at the park, go shopping, meet up with friends for dinner, or otherwise enjoy the nice weather.

There are countless concerts, festivals, parades, and many other events that can lead to evenings punctuated with the sounds of other people having a wonderful time if you happen to wander into the right neighbourhood at the right time.

As much as I love my quiet time, I’ve also learned to deeply appreciate the distant hum of an excited crowd or the faint vibrations of a band from a street or two away.

Being surrounded by relaxed, happy people is a lovely feeling, and Torontonians tend to be pretty happy in these scenarios.

The Sense of Community

One of the coolest and least intuitive things living in a city as large as Toronto is how often you tend to run into the same people over and over again. You’d think this would be rare given the fact that millions of people live here, but it’s really not!

This is the time of year when I stop to say hello to neighbours or acquaintances on almost every walk I take. Sometimes I’ll need to stop and talk to multiple people on the same stroll.

Since folks are spending more time outdoors being sociable in general, the chances of running into someone you know are higher than they would be in January when people tend to stay home after dark.

My parents did this regularly in the small towns I grew up in. Back then I assumed it was something that only happened in rural areas, but now I’ve learned that it’s part of city life as well. The world is a much smaller place than you’d think!

I’ve come to enjoy seeing how many people I recognize on these strolls. Some neighbours pop up so regularly I can nearly count on saying hello to them several times a week, while others only cross my path occasionally.

What do you like most about summer strolls?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Summer 2019 TBR

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

As I mentioned in last week’s Top Ten Tuesday post, my TBR list depends a lot on when I reach the top of the request list for the various library books I’m in queue for.

Based on the ratio of requests to library copies of these books, I believe they will all become available for me over the next two to three months. There is a lot of nonfiction coming my way this summer if all goes as planned. I’m excited about that.

You’ll notice that a few of these titles won’t be available until September. I decided to count anything that I expect to have my hands on before the official end of summer at the autumn equinox since southern Ontario typically remains quite hot, humid, and summer-like until late September or early October.

Title: They Were Her Property: White Women and the Economy of American Slavery by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers

I hope to have it: Any day now.

Why I want to read it: I don’t know much about the role wealthy white women played in slavery in the American south. I’m incredibly curious to learn more about that.

 

Title: 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do by Amy Morin

I hope to have it: In the first week of July

Why I want to read it: I’m intrigued by the feminist spin to this self-help book and would like to see what connection she makes between the #MeToo movement and taking charge of your own destiny. Those aren’t topics that I’d necessarily ever think to join together.

 

Title: On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

I hope to have it: In the second week of July.

Why I want to read it: I loved her first book, The Hate U Give, and after mentioning this one on several Top Ten Tuesday posts I’m quite excited to finally see if On the Come Up will be as thought-provoking. It’s been such a long wait that I can hardly believe I’m finally almost at the top of the library queue for it.

 

TitleOnce a Wolf: The Science Behind Our Dogs’ Astonishing Genetic Evolution by Bryan Sykes

I hope to have it: In the second week of July

Why I want to read it: Sometimes when I see someone walking around with a tiny little dog here in Toronto I like to imagine how a wolf would react to being stuffed into a purse or dressed in a tutu.  On a more serious note, I love dogs and have often wondered how humans took something as gigantic and fearsome as a wolf and gradually bred that gene pool into toy poodles and chihuahuas. Learning more about this is going to be a great way to spend part of my summer.

 

Title: Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller

I hope to have it: In the first week of August.

Why I want to read it: Psychology fascinates me in general. I studied attachment theory in a few of my college courses, and I’m curious to see if there’s any new research on the various types of attachment and how they affect you in adulthood.

 

TitleInvisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Pérez

I hope to have it: In the second week of August

Why I want to read it: As a short and petite woman, I’ve had some struggles adjusting to stuff that is designed for “average” people that are much taller and bigger than me. For example, some chairs are too big and high off the ground for me to sit in while also touching my feet to the floor. I’ve had issues with seatbelts not quite fitting me properly, too, which could be really dangerous in a crash. It’s going to be super interesting to find out why so many designers make cisgender men the standard instead of taking a wider variety of body sizes and shapes into account.

 

 

TitleWhy We Elect Narcissists and Sociopaths—And How We Can Stop! by Bill Eddy

I hope to have it: In the third week of August.

Why I want to read it: With a federal election coming up here in Canada this autumn and another federal election coming up the United States, my birth country, next year, I’m quite interested in why voters in many different countries can become so enamoured with Narcissistic politicians.

 

TitleCharlotte: A Novel by David Foenkinos and Sam Taylor

I hope to have it: In the first week of September

Why I want to read it: World War II was such a horrific war. This book of poetry was written about one of the many innocent people who died in a concentration camp during the course of it. I’d never heard of this painter before, and I’d like to know who she was before her life ended far too soon.

 

TitleThe Ghost Garden: Inside the Lives of Schizophrenia’s Feared and Forgotten by Susan Doherty

I hope to have it: In the second week of September

Why I want to read it: While they don’t have this specific diagnosis, there are a few people in my life who live with serious mental illnesses that have very negative impacts on their daily lives. I’m always on the lookout for books that talk about this topic, especially if they explore the lives of people who are not high functioning.

This is a sensitive and difficult issue, but I think there needs to be much more awareness of the many different ways mental illness can impact someone’s life. Some people absolutely can and do cope well with their illnesses. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for everyone.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Favorite Things to Do in the Summer

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

I’ve been looking forward to this prompt for ages! I can’t wait to get to know all of you a little better.

While spring is my favourite season in Toronto, the wonderful thing about summer here is how many different types of events are scheduled during it. I’m frugal and minimalistic, so everything I’ll mention in this post is either free or inexpensive.

Concerts. Pop and R&B have been my favourite types of music since childhood, but I can find something likeable about many other genres, too. Toronto has many free or low-cost concerts every summer that I enjoy checking out. There is nothing like listening to a singer or band perform on a warm day. You might even catch me dancing a little bit if no one is glancing in my direction!

Parks. As you’ve all heard in previous Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge posts, I enjoy the outdoors. Walking, trying to identify plants, playing badminton, snapping photographs, and visiting the zoo are some of the many things I’d enjoy at the park. If my husband agrees, maybe we’ll even have a picnic in the park before it gets too hot outside.

Beaches. I need to be mindful of how much sunlight I’m exposed to for medical reasons, but I still love going to the beach on occasion.  There’s nothing like building a sandcastle, going swimming, or even simply strolling down a boardwalk and doing some friendly people watching there.

Parades and Festivals. This is the time of year when Toronto has a parade or festival for almost anything you can imagine: race/ethnicity/cultural celebrations from every corner of the globe, jazz (among many other types of music), eco-friendly lifestyles, the LGBT+ community, the vegan/vegetarian community, and more. I don’t necessarily attend the same events every summer, but I do like to pick a few different things to check out depending on the weather and how much time I’ve spent in the sun lately. It’s delightful to be surrounded by so many happy people who share some sort of common experience or label.

Museums. Call me Hermione Granger, but learning is always my idea of a good time. Whether it’s art, science, history, or another topic entirely, there is definitely something to be said for spending a few hours in a nice, air-conditioned museum on a muggy day.

Volunteering. I recently began volunteering at a few new places, and I’m thrilled to help those organizations out. Summer seems like a great time of year to do this in general since so many volunteers tend to go on vacations then. Taking breaks is important and necessary, but it also means that many non-profit groups are looking for more folks to fill in the gaps in their schedules now.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question. The image below is the list of upcoming prompts for this blog hop.

Summer Worlds I’d Like to Visit

Last January I blogged about the winter worlds I wish I could visit. Now that we’re well into the month of August and temperates are soaring, I thought it would be a good time to revisit this topic from a summery perspective.

One of the differences between this list and the one I did for winter is how loosely I’m defining a summer world. Some of the places I’ll be mentioning in this post never get cold or snowy at all. Others have seasonal changes that don’t necessarily match up perfectly with Ontario’s yearly weather cycle. A couple of them are places that aren’t so much “worlds” as they are countries (or parts of countries) that really exist.

It’s the presence of hot, often humid weather and everything that comes along with such a forecast that I’m looking for in these tales regardless of where they are set. I hope you’ll understand why I loosened the definition of this label and have a few ideas of your own of summer or summer-like settings that might be interesting to visit.

The Congo

 

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Caveat: I’d pack plenty of practical items like bug spray and I’d spend very little time with the main characters of this tale.

The setting, though, tickled my imagination. I wish the audience could have seen the Congo’s fight for independence from Belgium from the perspective of someone who was born and raised in the Congo. The parts of this struggle that the main characters witnessed were fascinating. They made me wish it were possible to see the beginning of this movement for myself, and they were the highlight of the storyline for me.

The Deep South

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

While I’ve only been to Louisiana once, I did spend about a year of my childhood living in a different southern state. It wasn’t enough time for me to think of myself as a southerner by any means, but it was a period of my life when I developed some of my earliest memories that I am pretty certain are accurate and genuine.

The warm, humid evenings down there are something I’ll never forget. There’s no way to escape them. Like getting through snowstorms up north, you simply have to learn to adjust the rhythms of your day to what the weather is like. Assuming I could avoid the vampires running around there in this universe, it would be interesting to see if my memories of southern evenings are as accurate as I hope they are.

Any River That Huck Finn Paddles Down

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Huck was a character I liked a lot when I was a kid. The thought of a child deciding to leave home and go on an adventure without telling any of the adults in his or her life where they were headed made my heart skip a beat. I didn’t actually catch onto the satirical elements of the plot until I was older, but I do remember being envious of how much freedom this character had to design his own idea of a good time over the summer.

Also, I love bodies of water in almost any form. There are few things more soothing to me than spending time as close to a lake, river, pond, or ocean as possible. The sound of water lapping against the shore (or a seaworthy vessel) can lull me to sleep in minutes.

The House Where Justin’s Dad Lives

Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern.

How is that for a vague title? About seven or eight years ago there was a popular Twitter account that quoted all of the odd, funny, and sometimes disturbing things the author’s dad said without necessarily realizing that he was embarrassing his son. Eventually those quotes were compiled into a book.

As someone who has my own fair share of relatives who are known for putting their feet in their mouths over and over again without no signs of learning from their pasts, I’d know exactly how to respond to the cringeworthy stuff Justin’s dad said back in the day (and maybe still does).

 

A Summer That Refuses to End

Farewell Summer by Ray Bradbury

Raise your hand if you feel like this summer is going to last until the end of time.

This book is part of a series that is still on my TBR list, so I can’t give out any specific details about it yet. What I can say is that I, too, feel as though autumn is a decade or two away. It’s funny how some parts of the year speed by while others drag on forever, isn’t it?

What summer or summer-like worlds do you wish you could visit?

What to Read When It’s Hot Outside

Last winter I shared a list of books that I’d recommend checking out when it’s cold outside. All of them were set during the winter because sometimes I like to match the settings in the stories I read to what the weather in Ontario is like at that a particular time of the year.

Now it’s the middle of July.  Instead of having a high temperature of -25 C (-13 F) like we did when I published that post last January, it’s supposed to feel like 40 C (104 F) today including the humidex. I’m lucky enough to have air conditioning, but our home air conditioner does have some trouble keeping up when the weather grows that hot and humid.

Luckily, there’s something about leaping into a good book that helps me forget even the strongest heat wave.

My summer reading preferences tend to veer off into two different directions. I either want to read serious classic literature or lighthearted beach reads that don’t require much analyzing at all. (So much depends on exactly how humid it is outside and how well my brain cells are swimming around in my skull. Ha!)

I have no idea why my brain has made the connection between these two types of stories and summer. All I know is that these were the sections of our local public library I’d often visit first after school let out and I needed something to occupy my time for a few months.

Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

Summer Sisters was the first Judy Blume tale I read that wasn’t meant for kids. I stumbled across it a couple of decades before I reached the target age range, but I still loved the idea of making a childhood friend who remained with you throughout your life.

My family moved around a lot when I was growing up. The friends I made once we finally settled down for good turned out not to be people I had anything in common with at all in adulthood. This gives me a soft spot for people who were able to maintain their childhood friendships twenty, forty, or even sixty years later. It must be incredible to have such a long, rich history with someone like that.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

The first thing I’m going to tell you about this book is that you should never try to fry green tomatoes. My one and only attempt at making this dish did not end deliciously. Fried tomatoes have such an odd texture that I don’t ever want to taste them again.

The storyline itself was well done, though. It was about an unlikely friendship between a sad, middle-aged woman named Evelyn and Mrs. Threadgoode, a lonely nursing home resident. As they got to know each other better, Mrs. Threadgoode began telling Evelyn a complicated story about two friends who grew up together and ran a restaurant in Whistle Stop, Alabama that served coffee and occasionally might have been the scene of a violent crime or two.

Summer makes me feel nostalgic, so reading about what life was like from roughly the early 1900s to the1940s tickled my imagination.

 

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Some middle grade books can be just as appealing to adults as they are to their intended audience. If you ask me, this is one of them.

Winnie, the main character, had to decide whether or not to drink water from a spring that had the power to make someone immortal. I loved the descriptions of the water in that spring, especially since Winnie visited it during an uncomfortably warm portion of the year from what I can recall. There’s nothing as refreshing as a glass of cold water on a hot summer day, although I don’t know that I’d be interested in living forever.

 

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Okay, so technically My Sister’s Keeper wasn’t set during the summer. I first read it during such a hot and humid portion of this season that it still feels like a summer read to me.

The dilemma the characters dealt with was one that I thought could have been solved much more quickly than it was. Anna was a young girl who had been conceived specifically to be a donor for an older sibling who had leukaemia. She’s endured numerous medical procedures over the years in order to keep her sister alive, and by the time she turned eleven she’d had enough.

I formed my opinion on the ethics of this (fictional) case almost immediately. That didn’t mean I was any less interested in seeing if Anna could become legally emancipated from her family or what would happen to her sister after Anna was no longer forced to give away parts of her body to her sibling.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

To be perfectly honest with you, I am not a huge fan of Faulkner’s writing style. His descriptions remind me of a few people I know who will take ten minutes to recount a story that could have easily been shared in one or two. My patience for that sort of thing is limited to days when I have all the time in the world to read (or listen) and don’t mind getting lost in a long description of what someone’s wagon looked like before the narrator eventually sees fit to tell me who is riding in that wagon and where they’re going.

Without giving away any spoilers, the journey on said wagon was a deeply emotional one. I simply need to be in the right frame of mind in order to properly enjoy it (and to keep the 15 narrators straight in my mind!)

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

As someone who had mixed feelings about Romeo and Juliet, I sure wasn’t expecting to enjoy A Midsummer Night’s Dream like I did. There’s something about a warm summer night that makes falling in love – or, in some cases, lust – just a little more appealing than it would be at other times of the year.

If possible, I highly recommend watching this play outdoors on a warm evening. I was lucky enough to do that once, and it made the storyline come alive for me. There was something about feeling the humid air against my skin and hearing crickets chirping in the distance that made me feel like I’d been transported hundreds of years ago to when this story was first performed.

 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Yes, I know I’ve talked about this book several times before in previous posts. One of the things I liked most about the earliest scenes were their descriptions of what summer was like in the 1930s before air conditioning was invented. This was a very small part of the plot, of course, but people back then came up with all sorts of inexpensive and inventive ways to remain as cool as possible. I enjoyed reading about their solutions, and they made me very grateful to live in a world where air conditioning exists.

 

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

 Not only is The Bluest Eye set during the summer, I first read it over summer vacation as well. The sharp contrast between the warm setting and the cold descriptions of a young girl who had endured terrible abuse made me very curious to see how it ended. This book does include descriptions of the after-effects of rape, so reader be warned.

Do your reading preferences shift from one season to the next? What genres do you like to read during the hottest part of the year where you live?