“Summertime and the livin’ is easy.” Apologies to George Gershwin but I am sick of this song. Maybe that’s because it’s an American standard and I listen to a lot of jazz shows. Or maybe it’s because there aren’t that many songs about summer so then I get tired of the few there are. (I guess that’s why they have to start the Christmas music in October because there are so many songs that need to be played ad nauseam.)

Besides, I’m not sure summertime is really that easy in Bloomington. I live on a main thoroughfare and I can’t sleep with the window open because of the motorcycles and sirens passing by my place, not to mention the drunk people coming home from parties or bars. Then there is the ever-present gauntlet of panhandlers in the downtown area which makes even a walk to the library a bit of a challenge.

The streets are filled with moving vans blocking your way and it’s not always easy to discern what is on the sidewalk to be moved, or what has been abandoned and is free for the taking. If you are particularly enterprising, with a lot of free time and a large truck, you could collect all the furniture and other items left on the curbs around town and sell them at a flea market.

That is, as long as you could get this stuff before it gets ruined from being discarded outside in the elements by the careless students. You could also take all the unopened canned goods that are simply thrown away and donate them to a food pantry. And rescue all the pets that are left behind to fend for themselves. I’m sure you have no doubt as to my opinion on all of this.

Coming down off my soapbox, I’ll now relate some of the good things about summer in Bloomington. Bike rides on the trails! If I do all three trails and back, including the commute from where I live, it’s over 16 miles. I did this three times in one week and I’m pretty sure I put more miles on the bike than on the car.

The Farmer’s Market is huge, and sellers come from all over to participate. There are food vendors and scheduled entertainment, as well as many impromptu buskers on the streets—musicians as well as other types of performers. Once a month there is the Fair of the Arts which includes handmade arts and crafts. This is the place to see and be seen.

There are three free concert series in three different parks: one on Friday nights, one on Sunday evenings, and one on Tuesdays at lunchtime. You will see a variety of dogs at these concerts as Bloomington is very canine friendly. Many restaurants will allow you to have your pet with you if you are eating outside. Bloomingfoods, the local food co-op, has a water dispenser outside the downtown store for furry friends.

I realize that my definition of “summer” may not apply to the real world today, as many schools have already started as I write this. (I would point out that technically summer lasts until the Autumnal Equinox, which is September 23rd this year.) To me, it’s summer until I can go outside at night without hosing myself down with insect spray. Maybe next year I’ll try a beekeepers suit.

But the best part of summer is having some unscheduled time. When I hear people say stuff like “summer is just so busy” then I’m pretty sure they have missed the point. If you don’t have time to play with sparklers, catch lightning bugs, spend an entire day on roller skates, or sip tea under a tree then you’re doing it wrong. Try scheduling something for “when it gets dark” and just leave it at that.

Remember, summer is a mindset. It doesn’t matter if your classes have started or if you have to go be an adult in an office all week. You may have to get creative, but you can still find a time and a place to do summer without completely shirking all your responsibilities. Think of whatever summer means to you and try to keep that with you all through the year.

I imagine adopting this kind of attitude will help make living a whole lot easier, no matter what month the calendar shows, what the outdoor thermometer says, or what song is playing on your radio.