Erika Veurink and I both grew up in the Midwest but had to move all the way to New York City in order for the universe to bring us together. Thank goodness it did. Now that we're both back in the middle of the country, right where we belong, Erika is sharing her thoughts on the beauty of a Midwestern summer.
If every person was like a Midwesterner during the summer, the world would be a better place.
Midwesterners are their best selves during the summer. It’s for a lot of reasons, but most of them involve leaving work early on Fridays, murky lake water, and bars for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Ah, the elusive summer Friday. As the days get warmer, the work day gets shorter. I don’t even have a proper, grown up job, but my laptop is certainly stowed under my weekender as I toss in every pair of denim short and swimsuit I own after 2 o’clock on a Friday.
Summer becomes the ideal excuse to turn every weekend into a mini vacation. Capitalizing on the good times is an old farming lesson. There are seasons of bad crops, where you have to put your head down, work hard, and hope for the best. But there are also seasons of abundance that deserve to be celebrated for all they’re worth. Someone you know has a lake house, a boat, or an operating sprinkler, worse case scenario. Capitalize!
Summer, the kind where you can stay outside for more than thirty minutes, really only lasts for three weeks. Then, the sun scorches and we flock to bodies of water. Don’t get me wrong; I think swimming in lakes is gross. The bottoms are usually muddy and plush in the worst way. Random fish leaping out of the brown/green three feet away from me terrify me. And I’ve been flipped off enough tubes in my lifetime for three people. But the second I’ve slathered on sunscreen and turned on the worst pop hits of now, the lake becomes magical. Next thing I know, it’s s’more time and I’m counting down the hours until I can wake up and hit replay.
Perhaps the most important factor to enjoying summer like the Midwesterner you are/hope to be is to embrace every summer food and forsake the summer body.
There is no time for upping your gym regimen when there are pontoon rides to be had and sand volleyball to play. So check your salad and smoothie at the door; it’s time to live large. My favorite Midwestern classic is simply: the bar. I mean M&M, almond, chocolate chip, Special K, pumpkin-need I go on? My best friend, Ashley and I, are notorious for sneaking midnight bars and eating them on the dock after everyone is asleep. There are no redeeming qualities about bars-they have all the butter, you will eat more than six, and you’ll love every second of it.
Of course, bring on the sweet corn and cheese curds and maybe even hot dogs if you’re into that. After hours of wiffle ball in the yard or kayaking, you’ve earned it. Just don’t forget to save room for dessert (more bars.)
It’s about clearing your weekend and staying out late and getting up early and capitalizing on the good times. Winter will come and it’ll be dark when you leave work. There will be time for staying in and reading Tolstoy by the fire. But now it’s summer.
Put Hall & Oates on the turntable, throw some (veggie) burgers on the grill, and cannonball into the lake. Enjoy it like a Midwesterner.
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