Ahhhhh…Summertime. And the livin’ is easy … so easy, in fact, that we don’t feel guilty sitting in the shade sipping a tall glass of the house wine of the South—sweet tea (or Sangria) and watching the grass grow a bit higher.
Ask anyone to name their summertime guilty pleasures, and everyone has a different answer. That, of course, gives you more items for your easy livin’ list. Perhaps some of the chores can wait until fall. Maybe that fence doesn’t need a coat of paint.
In The Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening
In the evening, as the temperature cools, stroll through a garden with or without a glass of wine. Many gardens and wineries hold summer evening concerts. For those, toss in lawn chairs, old quilts or blankets, picnic foods and your friends! There are Friday night outdoor concerts in Blacksburg, Christiansburg Library, and Shawsville Middle School—Old Town Fields. Sinkland Farms, Rockhouse Marina, Rising Silo Brewery, and other places frequently feature live music. Enjoy yourselves and let any routine bed times roll on by.
When the thermometer redlines, a chilly movie house may offer the perfect place to escape the heat. Think in terms of a double feature and double the popcorn! After dark, cruise over the Starlite Drive-In and plan to watch whatever is playing. Well-mannered pets on leashes are welcome there.
The Fair and Festival Front
All the street celebrations, fairs and festivals in the New River Valley provide the perfect conduit for guilty pleasures. If it’s too early for you to do any Christmas shopping, then enjoy buying yourself some art or jewelry or home décor item. And arrive hungry. These are the perfect places to indulge in deep fried this and that, BBQ and brats, unexpected sweets, funnel cakes, corn dogs and meat on a stick.
Ride the rides, stroll the streets, buy something silly, do something silly, unleash the child inside to dance when the bands play and while away the day into the night.
Wine and s’mores around the fire pit? Really, there are pairings for this. Squish an ooey-gooey melted marshmallow between chocolate squares and graham crackers, then wash it all down with something tastier than milk. The average red or white wine won’t do, so try a slightly chilled Tawny or Ruby Port or dessert wine. Treat the young ones to sparkling grape juice.
Hosting game night on a “school night” is another summer guilty pleasure, as is letting the kids camp out in the backyard and have the house a.l.o.n.e. all night long. Barbecue as much as you can and do nothing after dark but sit outside, enjoy conversation or not, listen to crickets, watch lightning bugs and stare at a starry sky.
Take your cowboy and cowgirl inner selves to Skyline Stables or Winterfrost Farm for wonderful trail rides in beautiful terrain. Buy cowboy hats where the brim offers much more protection than a ball cap’s front visor. Speaking of ball caps, catch a baseball game in Pulaski, Radford University or Virginia Tech.
During the dog days of summer, think about the dogs! Walk a neighbor’s dog or volunteer at the nearest animal shelter to play with dogs and cats. Scour Little Libraries all over the place or go to the public library and check out a pile of paperbacks (lightweight) for longer-than-should-be hammock and chaise lounge sessions. Napping and snoozing indulgences encouraged.
There’s no age limit for spending a day on the water – tubes, kayaks, canoes, boats, stand-up paddleboards or a cheap blow-up float under your back work well. The New River, Little River, Claytor Lake and even a swimming pool can fit the bill for getting cool and frittering away some time. The ol’ sprinkler in the yard will cool you down, no matter your age. You can act more silly in summer.
Summer is the perfect season to sport bright lipstick and multi-color or sparkly toenail polish. Fancy flipflops, tee shirts and ball caps with sequins can pretty up things. And this is the finest of seasons for one of the greatest of indulgences: I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. You can buy ice cream, make ice cream, decorate ice cream, go out for ice cream, fry ice cream, but enjoy ice cream all summer. The most guilty pleasure here would the banana split. Go for it.
Jo Clark is probably in her bathing suit, toes in the water, sinking her teeth into a fresh tomato sandwich and dreaming of funnel cake with extra sugar. Instagram @JoGoesEverywhere, and on Facebook at Have Glass, Will Travel.
Text by Jo Clark