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5 ways to celebrate the first day of summer

June 21 marks the official first day of summer this year. 

So why not get outside and celebrate with some fun, seasonal activities? Take advantage of the warmth and the sunshine of the season - after all, it is the "longest" day of the year! Try one of these five festive ways to rejoice in the summer solstice:

1. Take a hike
Getting enough exercise is important at any age but especially for older adults. It can improve your cardio-respiratory system, strengthen muscles and decrease the risk for many different types of chronic illnesses. 

Do you find that it tends to be easier to stay fit during the warmer months of the year? Celebrate the official start of summer by getting outside to enjoy a nice hike. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get at least 150 minutes a week of moderately intense exercise, so try going on a long hike.

A Stanford University study found that spending time in nature can decrease anxiety and depression. Find a trail in your area that will allow you to see plenty of organic sights - perhaps up a mountain that provides a great view from the top, or a winding path through the woods where you can take shelter in the shade of the trees. 


Head outdoors for a hike to get some exercise and enjoy the start of summer.Head outdoors for a hike to get some exercise and enjoy the start of summer.

2. Pick fruits
Most summer produce peaks in July and August, but blackberries start to ripen at the end of spring. Find a local pick-your-own farm, or search for wild blackberries - just be sure you follow proper protocols to recognize true blackberries. Never eat berries you can't positively identify. SF Gate offers guidelines for finding blackberries, including facts like they grow in thorny, dense shrubs, have dark green leaves with three to five leaflets and the flowers are white with five flat petals. 

Collect sweet, fresh berries as a great way to celebrate the solstice. Muddle them in a glass and fill it with lemonade for a bright, refreshing summer drink. Or turn it into a tasty treat by adding to a bowl of vanilla ice cream or try a new recipe, like this one from the Food Network:

Blackberry Cobbler

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cold butter, sliced into pieces
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups plus 1 Tbsp self-rising flour
  • 2 cups blackberries
  • 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup milk
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 450F and grease a 1-quart casserole dish.
  2. In a saucepan, mix sugar, 1 tablespoon of flour, water and berries. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow it to simmer for two minutes. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cut butter into remaining flour. Slowly add milk until a soft dough forms that pulls away from the bowl. 
  4. Roll dough into a square that's 1/4 of an inch thick. Cut dough into 2-inch wide strips.
  5. Pour one cup of blackberry mixture into the casserole dish, then cover with half of the dough strips.
  6. Bake until the dough browns (about 12 minutes), then remove from the oven.
  7. Add remaining blackberry mixture and spread over the dough. Add the rest of the dough strips to the top. Bake for an additional 15 minutes. 
  8. Serve warm with scoops of vanilla ice cream.

3. Go the the beach
Few things say summer as much as a day by the water. Head to a nearby ocean, lake or river and go for a swim, which has the added benefit of being a low-impact exercise that's good for your joints. Or, you can walk the shoreline, soaking up some mood-boosting vitamin D from the sun. Just be sure to use plenty of SPF sunscreen, drink lots of water and take a break to sit in the shade if you start to feel too hot or think you may be burning.

Also plan to incorporate some games at the beach with your family. Build sand castles with your grandkids, play with a beach ball or fly a kite together. Intergenerational activities are good for the whole family, so a beach day is a perfect way to spend time together. 


Take dinner outdoors to celebrate the first day of summer. Take dinner outdoors to celebrate the first day of summer.

4. Dine outside
Having your meals outside is a seasonal way to celebrate - host a backyard barbecue, go on a picnic or patronize a restaurant with outdoor seating. Feast on summer favorites like sweet corn on the cob, watermelon or meat fresh of the grill. Combine your outdoor meal with another summer activity, such a packing a festive lunch to enjoy on your hike. It's a simple way to elevate a daily activity into something special that will help you get into the sunny spirit of the season. 

5. See outdoor art
Local art museums often add outdoor installations in the summer months, or public works projects may bring special displays to your parks. Find an area that has unique art outside that you can stroll through. A community garden, arboretum or hedge maze can also make fun ways to spend the afternoon. Need help finding these types of places?Try searching your town's website, or check the events section of your local newspaper. to find these kind of displays.

There are many ways you can get outside to enjoy the start of summer! Talk to your loved ones and make a list of fun activities you want to share together this season. Whatever you decide, just be sure to do it safely and soak up those moments with the ones you love!

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