Last weekend, I sat in the football stadium at Manatee High School in Bradenton and watched a handful of students I work with walk across the stage to accept their diplomas. I love the celebration, the sense of accomplishment, the talk of transition and uncertainty about the future. I remember the feeling of that first post-high school summer—everything was changing, everything was new.
Now, after college in Jacksonville and six months in Los Angeles, I’ve just finished my first full year back at home, working in the most adult-like job I have ever had and starting to feel awfully grown up. (Please, those of you with a few more decades under your belt, try not to laugh.)
Summer, though, still carries some of that magic. We traded the student’s two months of unrestrained freedom for two weeks of planned relaxation, but still—the pace is slower, the days are longer, and the calendar seems to be marked more by pleasure than obligation. Summer means kayaks, daytrips, baseball, thunderstorms, hammocks and movies with lots of explosions. It also means trying something new—using the downtime and the snowbird void to visit that restaurant I never got around to or look for a new place for an evening walk.
One of my favorite summer rituals.
My summer kicked off on Memorial Day weekend with a long kayak trip on the Manatee River. It continues in a big way next Monday, when I leave for 10 days in Nicaragua—pictures and stories to come, I promise.
After that? There’s the beach, of course. Maybe I’ll pick up golfing again too—nothing’s more frustratingly wonderful than a warm afternoon on the back nine, and the Experts Pick part of our Best Of story last month brought back the itch. And I can’t say no to unexplored mangrove passages and spontaneous swims, so I expect more kayaking. (I’m ready to branch out from my Manatee River and Terra Ceia Bay home turf, though. Any favorite spots?) Mostly, I’m looking forward to something new—which means exploring the many preserves along the Myakka River, trying new food, and visiting some of those Sarasota fixtures I’m embarrassed to have avoided for so long (I can’t tell you the last time I’ve been to Mote Marine).
So be sure to check back. And if you have any favorite must-do experiences, I’d love to hear about them—leave a comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Between Hannah, Megan and myself, I can’t wait to see everything this Sarasota summer has in store. After all, we’re living in paradise.