Have you heard of the teacup list? Instead of the bucket list with its dramatic, “before-I-die” goals, we have the teacup list. Instead of feeling panicked you haven’t gone on that cross-country road trip or hiked in Thailand or parachuted in the Gobi desert, you shrink all expectations. With this in mind, here in no particular order are the small (okay, very small) things I wish to do this summer…
Avoid the news as much as possible — I know, it’s hard. But there comes a point where we need to come up for air. I have to take a break from the daily litany of tragedy, sorrow, and horror. I need to concentrate on fleeting summer beauty – orange daylilies, white egrets, sailboats, a honeysuckle-scented breeze, fat, ripe tomatoes, and pink geraniums in the sun. Yes, I need things that make me happy instead of making me want to cry and throw things.
Get a tan by sitting outside ten minutes a day – I hear the gasps of sun worshippers now. Ten minutes? That’s it? You must understand, people. I’m an indoor person with white, pasty skin. Ten minutes in the morning will help me get that (for me) toasty look I need, without baking for hours on a beach.
Listen to the drone of insects – Believe it or not, when I was a kid that sound meant summer. And is it me or did summers seem slower back then? The hum of bumblebees around a rhododendron brings back blue freeze pops, “I Love Lucy” reruns, riding bikes to Woolworth’s, and playing hide and seek behind backyard trees. When I listen to that sound, it’s a reminder to slow down and enjoy life.
Eat cotton candy, a Chocolate Éclair popsicle and buttered popcorn – These each have specific instructions. The cotton candy should be eaten while walking around my town carnival. The Chocolate Éclair popsicle should be ideally purchased from an ice cream truck. And the popcorn should be munched on while seeing a summer blockbuster in a movie theater.
Listen to the following summer songs – “Hot Fun in the Summertime” by Sly and the Family Stone; “Grazing in the Grass” by Friends of Distinction or “Tighten Up” by Archie Bell and the Drells. These bring back walking barefoot on warm country roads in cut-off shorts and halter-tops. They bring back lying on beaches slathered in baby oil. They bring back sitting and laughing with friends at night on cool, summer lawns.
Watch fireflies – As kids, we ran around capturing these insects in jars. We’d pierce the top and fill them with grass and sticks. We put them next to our beds at night and watch them light up. And we’d let them go in the morning. The strange thing was they looked like ordinary insects by day. You’d never know they possessed such powers of illumination. Fireflies remind me there’s something magical about summer evenings.
Eat lots of meals outside — If you live in New England (or anywhere with serious winters) you know the feeling. You gaze on your back porch in mid-February and sigh. Snow’s piled up. A freezing arctic wind blows the sad wind chimes. Summer seems an impossible dream.
So when the weather’s warm, eating outside is a treat and celebration. It means sun and warmth and barbecued chicken and potato salad. It means watching hummingbirds flit around their feeder, sipping nectar. It means sitting and talking and listening to music. In the summer, our porch becomes the family room.
And as I write this, I realize that (for me) summers aren’t so much creating new stuff, but recapturing old.
Enjoying summer was easy as kids. Most of us did what we wanted. We didn’t need a list — teacup, bucket or otherwise.
We didn’t care if we went to Thailand or rode off to California on Route 66. We were happy just to be alive and free for a few months.
And maybe that’s the key to summer. It’s all about simple pleasures — old songs, fireflies, eating outdoors, hummingbirds, potato salad, pink geraniums, and of course, ice cream trucks.
Maybe the perfect summer isn’t about adding things at all… but slowly taking them away.
What’s on your summer teacup list? I’d love to hear and if you like, please share. Thank you.