The days are getting longer. The skies are looking bluer. The freshness of the spring bloom is starting to grow into that lush, confident green we look forward to every year. And whatever else you might want to call it, we all know what it is. You can feel it in the air. Summer. It’s a time for love, for recreation, for simply basking in the warmth. And if the heat doesn’t get too oppressive, summer really is a time for the flowering of human experience. You’ll never find a better season for more new activities, or a better excuse to take a break from work and go bungee jumping. Yes, it looks like the memes were all wrong, people. Summer is coming.
So you’ve got two choices. You can either enthusiastically drop everything and run off into the great wild unknown and enjoy the vast expanse of North America, hitching and train-hopping your way from town to town before you lose the chance to do it forever, or, for the more sober-minded among us, you can enjoy summer right in your own city. But that takes a little bit of planning.
So let’s get ready for summer with these helpful tips. Remember, we’re professionals.
Install your Air Conditioner!
I don’t know about you, but everywhere I’ve lived, summer can get pretty brutal. That’s a consequence of living on a giant mirror made of glass and asphalt, I suppose, but it does mean that summers are often scorching. And what’s worse, a lot of housing up here doesn’t have central air conditioning pre-installed. So you’re going to want to get your window unit installed as soon as possible. They’re pretty simple to get going; plug ’em in and stick them in the window frame, attaching any included fixtures and brackets to make sure it’s secure. That way you’re ready when the heat really kicks in, and won’t find yourself desperately installing it during a sudden heatwave. As they say, better an ounce of prevention than a pound of cure.
If you don’t already own an air conditioner, you’re going to want to get yourself covered as soon as you can with a good unit capable of providing you with a nice, cool refuge from those days when the sun just won’t stop beating you down. Knowing what kind of air conditioner to buy can be tough, and that’s why we’ve prepared and handy-dandy air conditioner buyer’s guide to help you find the best one. Whether it’s a window unit, a portable, or a full-scale PTAC, an AC is a vital part of any summer plan. Remember, in NYC at least, Summer 2012 was the third hottest summer on record, with temperatures in New York City in the triple digits for much of the season. I can’t imagine weathering that without an air conditioner.
You might want consider purchasing an efficient Energy Star-rated air conditioner, which meet or exceed the strictest EPA guidelines for energy efficiency. And always remember that air conditioners should be replaced every three years so you’re always up to date with current EPA Energy Star standards. They’ll save you money, and help save the planet, too!
Plan a Memorial Day Barbecue
Memorial Day originated as a day to remember the sacrifice of those who died in the Civil War, and was first celebrated by freedmen in Charleston, South Carolina in May, 1865 in what is now Hampton Park. Today, it’s become a day for both national memorial for American servicemen and a national day of recreation, the symbolic start to the summer season, celebrated with fireworks, family gatherings, and the traditional barbecue.
Barbecuing is a great way to combine a meal for family and friends with an embrace for the outdoors. So if you want to throw a great BBQ party, do it right! Think bigger than burgers. A great grill can handle everything from hot dogs to ribs, and some grilled veggies would make a nice complement. Expand your palate. And think about other things you can serve around the picnic table — deviled eggs, potato salad, cole slaw, baked mac and cheese — to give your guests some options. So gather your family out on the patio with a selection of dishes. Kick off summer right, kemosabe.
Get Ready for Farmer’s Markets!
Farmer’s markets may run year-round in much of the country, but summer is when they really shine. No more hothouse produce; this is the real stuff. Now’s the time to start getting excited about all the fresh summer produce you’ll finally be able to get at its absolute best, and to think about everything you can do with it. Everything from tomatoes to cherries to watermelons are going to be peaking in the summer, so get ready to dig in. Now’s the time to start planning all those pies you’ve been wanting to cook.
Stock up on allergy medication and sunblock
A lot of people find summer brings more woes than whoas (pun intended) in the form of month-long sneezing fits and deep, red, murderous sunburn. But we live in an age of marvels, and there’s no reason to let your body’s natural antipathy to the outdoors stand between you and summer fun. Now’s the time to make sure you’ve got a reliable supply of allergy meds and sunblock.
For allergy meds, personal preference is as good a guide as any as far as picking what you need, but an important thing to remember about sunblock is that the SPF number doesn’t tell you a whole lot. SPF 15 blocks 94% of the sun’s rays, SPF 30 blocks 97%, SPF 45 blocks 98%, and after that, the numbers become functionally meaningless. For most people, SPF 30 is sufficient, and a water-resistant sunblock should be applied every two hours or after swimming. Don’t worry about getting the SPF 10,000 sunblock you usually go for, and just make sure you’ve got enough of whatever it is you end up using.
Summer isn’t going anywhere. Sure, it’s not the endless island that it was when we were ten, but it’s still three solid months long, and you’ve got time. You don’t need to jam everything into every day, and sometimes it’s important to take some time, kick back by yourself with a good back or every single episode of House of Cards and take a load off. Better yet? String a hammock out back and take a load off. You can hit the beach next weekend. You can go to Six Flags later. Let your mind wander, and dream…