So we officially have hit 'Summer Of 2014' as of last Saturday.  To commemorate this special occasion, I enjoyed a nice bonfire in the backyard. I think living in Minnesota we probably value our summers more than some because they go by so fast and then we are freezing again. As I sat watching the fire I started thinking about all of the things that we really can only enjoy in the summertime. I for one, LOVE SUMMER! How about you?

There is just something soothing and peaceful about a fire. It's mesmerizing to watch the flames and just sit and let your mind go blank. I had a fun time over the weekend eating delicious brats and chatting with a good friend over what was a really awesome fire in the backyard.

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Enjoying a fire with friends would have to top a list if I were to make one of things you can only do in the summer that totally rock!  Here's my list of favorite summer exclusives:

1.  A Fire - be it a campfire, a bonfire, a fire in your backyard, making s'mores, singing songs around the fire, no matter what you do with a fire besides destroying things you just cannot go wrong. I don't know as if a fire would be as awesome in the winter, and I can't say I've ever thought of trying it.  A beautiful evening and a fire and I'm just in heaven. Did you know that the first campfire can be traced back to over a million and a half years ago?  Who would have thought that an activity that has been around for so long could still be so much fun?  According to [Discover Magazine], the ancient fires may have been made by using Antelope bones in caves in South Africa.  I am sure glad we don't have to wrestle up antelope bones today!  Just grab a couple of logs, an old newspaper, light a match and waloh!  It makes you wonder what civilization is going to think of us a million years from now.  I somehow doubt that our campfire logs will survive, and maybe theirs didn't either and that is why they just have these bones to try to map it all out. Hmmm.

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2.  Water - Drinking ice cold water, swimming outdoors, boating on the river, watching the kids play, or playing yourself in the water on a hot day?  Awesome! For me, even just sitting near a body of water, perhaps on a beach, or a deck overlooking a river, it just is not quite as sweet in the wintertime. What is it about water that is so relaxing?  Snow does not have the same effect on me.  I have a few pals that live down south and don't experience winters like we do here, and they have said to me that watching snowflakes fall is really exciting. The grass is always greener, is it not?  I love water in the summertime, in any form that it comes.  Even when it rains, or if it storms, I actually enjoy that, provided it doesn't linger.  I realize we had a little bit too much just a week ago.

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3. Not having to wear huge coats and layers of clothing is so liberating! I confess, I am one of those people who is mostly always cold. I wear long sleeves and sweaters sometimes even in the summer.  I tell you it is absolutely amazing to not have to load up on clothing!  The one thing that kind of sucks is that the less clothing you have, the less places you have to stash stuff.  It sucks when you don't have huge pockets to help you carry crap with you.  I would take shorts and a tshirt any day over a big husky bulky coat however.  It's really nice not to have to bury yourself in several blankets either.  I love the summer!

3. Concerts and outdoor festivals!  Anyone who knows me knows that since I was a wee little tot I have always loved to go to concerts. My first concert was at the Grand Old Opry in Nashville when my parents took me on a trip in their motorhome.  That was an indoor show, but when I think back to the very first one I ever went to that was outdoors, I went to a show in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

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My family traveled a lot when I was younger, but I specifically remember asking my dad to drive me and some friends up to Wisconsin.  I was a teenager then and he let my friends and I go to this concert all by ourselves alone and I thought it was the neatest thing!  I was really the only one in my family that really became obsessed with outdoor concerts, but perhaps this awesome memory, one of my first adventures on my own sparked that desire in me.  We got rained on at that show but I had so much fun. Since that time, I don't know as if I even have kept track as to how many outdoor concerts and festivals I have attended, but I know it would probably be in the hundreds if not thousands.  I probably am not even exaggerating believe it or not!  I have traveled to attend them too! Growing up in Rochester, there did not used to be so much of that around here.  Occasionally there would be a show at the Olmsted county fair grandstand, sometimes the Mayo Civic center, but the Down By The Riverside concerts did not used to be what it is today, as far as I can remember.  This summer there is a pretty fantastic lineup for the free Sunday evening shows. The Los Lonely Boys, Cracker, and Grand Funk Railroad are among some of the performers this year I'm looking forward to watching from my lawn chair. I can't seem to remember seeing much here in this area growing up, but I sure go to several outdoor events in Rochester these days!  I would rather see a band play at an outdoor festival because it is just so much more fun. Even events like Rochesterfest and Thursday's on First & Third make for some fun summer days and evenings here.

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4. Fresh air - opening your windows and allowing a nice breeze in your house, or even rolling down the window of your car is a huge plus and mood lifter for me.  What is it about fresh air that is so amazing? Yeah, this is a summer delicacy. Not only is it nice to breathe non-stuffy cooped-up inside air that you breathe all winter long when you are indoors, but the breeze...  can I just say "Ahhhhhh.... "  it even makes you sleep better at night.  It does for me anyways.

5. Biking or going for walks outside, just being outside in nature - I love it.  This could probably fall into the fresh air category, but it is an awful lot easier to get out and get active during the warmer days than it is in the winter.

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I love to ride my bike, as I've shared before, I love to walk around the neighborhood in the evenings, or generally just get out and go do something.  This summer I plan to vary my rides by trying out different trails with different scenery.  I've so far ridden in Lanesboro, Pine Island, Rochester, Byron, and even Kasson. Oh the places I'll go!  I have some goals and ideas!  It's going to be so fun! Travel in general, via car, foot, bike, anything, is far easier during summer than in the winter.  Even going for drives is fantastic.

6. Being Lazy! 

Oh the dog days of summer!   Who remembers this one from the B52's? To me, it just sums up those days. Those 'Dog Days' are coming, but... I love them and I could be a leader of a 'Deadbeat Club' during those days!  I love to be lazy.  Summer goes by too fast I think.