If You Don’t Have Fun, It’s Your Own Damn Fault

Summertime is always the best of what might be.

— Charles Bowden

The River Valley is magical. So much to do, so many ways to enrich our lives. I could take up this column listing everything you can find throughout the pages of Voice. To quote one of my favorite t-shirts from a well-known Spring Green eating establishment, if you don’t have fun, it’s your own damn fault.

So how to get the most out of your summer time here? Glad you asked. Here are some ideas (and writing prompts, of course). Journal entry, essay, poem or freewrite — whatever fits your mood. Feel free to make lists — one of my favorite forms of writing.

Write out a bucket list for the summer. Make plans. Remember to take your journal!

Make your “do not miss” list. Places to go? Experiences to have? Events you don’t want to miss? Turn ideas into a checklist and get to it.

Research things you haven’t done before. Make your list and plan away.

On vacation? What do you make time for that you don’t in your everyday life? Why is it important to you? How can you bring good vacation vibes into your daily life?

The River Valley has so many beautiful places — go hiking. Take photos. (Bonus — you’ll fulfill your exercise requirement for the day.) Write about where you are, what you see, what is happening around you, and how you feel. What about the place inspires you? Take photos. Write a poem.

Use your five senses to write about summer. (Also use this technique for the above prompt.) What smells remind you of summer? Sounds? Tastes? What about sights? What do you feel/touch (physically) in summer? If you fall into memories, write about them.

Speaking of summer memories, what is your favorite? How old were you? Where were you? Who was there? What makes it your favorite? What about your best summer trip? What made it memorable? Where did you go? With whom? What did you do?

Look to the world around you for inspiration and write about hot temperatures, sweating, wildflowers along roads and in woods, swimming, camping, neighborhood parties, thunderstorms, summer rain, bugs, poison ivy, gardening, lemonade stands, ice cream.

Take a nap in a hammock. Go biking. Have an outdoor picnic. Find an outdoor concert. Take a bird-watcher walk. Go kayaking, canoeing or tubing on the Wisconsin River. Visit a museum. Go to an art fair. Enjoy a “garage/estate-sale” day. Spend the day at a county fair. Go fishing. Plan a weekend taking a road trip. Go berry picking. Stargaze. And don’t forget to write about your experiences.

Rainy day? Go to a movie, or play cards or board games. Go to the library and check out a great summer read. Go outside and dance in the rain (only if there is no lightning, of course). And write about each!

Kathy Steffen is an award-winning novelist and author of the “Spirit of the River Series:” “First, There is a River,” “Jasper Mountain,” and “Theater of Illusion.” She writes from her home in Spring Green she shares with her husband and cats. Find out more at www.kathysteffen.com.