After a bleak and dreary spring, summer has finally settled into the Slope. The air smells steamy when I walk down the street, and wetness trails down my back. Wait a minute—this is what I was dreaming of, all those winter days when barren trees and bone-breaking breezes rattled me, body and soul? Summer reminds me that it is no refuge from struggle, though this struggle is of a different sort. It's the slowness that passes over my body that feels like I've been missing sleep, though all I'm missing is a breeze. Winter's foe is summer's friend, and if only she would breathe on me again, I could stop rushing from shade to shade and soak in my old acquaintance, the sun.
I have some good winter survival skills, thanks to my Colorado upbringing and serious cold weather bundles, but I'm still learning how to play my way through these humid summers. I picked up some tricks last year, but this year I'm adding a few more to my bag. In case I'm not the only one wilting in the heat, here are my Tips for Recreation and Retreat for Summer 2008:
- Cool off in The Chocolate Room, where the neighborhood's kindest staff welcomes you into their air-conditioned refuge with a seductive taste of their Valrhona Chocolate Sorbet. The Brownie Sundae with Sumatran Coffee Ice Cream and the Not Hot, a frozen version of their hot chocolate, are perfect picks for a warm day, though any evening is improved with a glass of the luscious Bonny Doon Framboise. If indulgence is not yet your religion, prepare to be converted.
- Catch a cool river breeze and take your kids for an adventure on Red Hook's NY Water Taxi over to Manhattan. Remember, water and wind are now your friends; dust off those relationships and reconnect.
- Go on an Electric Boat Tour of Prospect Park's Lullwater and Lake. This is fun for kids by day, but romantic by night with Twilight Tours, which include a wine and cheese reception.
- Take a picnic to the Long Meadow in Prospect Park, where temperatures are likely to feel up to ten degrees cooler away from the concrete. Let nature shade and cool you.
- Cook (and eat) spicier meals, which have a cooling effect on the body. Lemongrass Grill and La Taqueria are a couple of my local favorites.
- Savor the ease of getting out the door without coats, hats, scarves, gloves, boots, socks, stroller blankets and wind guards. Travel just as lightly in your mind and heart—shed your winter worries, step into your sandals and out into the sun.
I'm always on the hunt for more survival strategies, so the comments section is open for you to share your tips for recreation and retreat from the sticky Park Slope summer heat.
Jen Lee is a Park Slope mother and writer, and a regular contributor for Hip Slope Mama. For more of Jen Lee: Writer, Mother, Newbie Yorker, visit jenlee.net.