I was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and I cannot imagine living anywhere else. The simple reason? The change of seasons.
I enjoy how we roll from one season to the next, how the smell in the air and the colors around us change, sometimes literally overnight. If pressed for a favorite of the four seasons, I would have to firmly state summer as my answer. For me, it conjures up favorite childhood memories – and favorite memories with my own children. A season full of hope and endless possibilities for outings, day trips, and backyard fun.
Mainly, it speaks the word OUTDOORS loudly in my head. As in I want to be outside for as many waking hours as possible, never mind the heat or humidity. There is always something to do and experience.
So, as it is in my nature to “be one with nature,” I am getting in as much outdoor time as I possibly can during these last few weeks of summer. In the past week alone, I have experienced two local outdoor venues for the first time, and a day trip to a beach town I had never visited before. I highly recommend them all.
Stoneleigh: A Natural Garden – I drive by this pristine yet secluded garden several times a week, but this was the first time I ventured to slow down and enjoy the beauty. I was immediately rewarded with an immersion in nature… Since 2016, the gates have been open to the public free of charge with stately champion trees adorning the .9-mile loop around the estate. The towering trees are impressive and so is the Tudor Revival original home that prominently sits in the middle of the estate. Laurel, the informative staff member who greeted us at the entrance, was as excited about sharing her knowledge of the property as if it was her first day on the job. There was so much to take in that I left the grounds knowing I would return in the fall when the leaves begin to change color on the impressive trees.
Shadybrook Farms – I have often read about this farm, always adapting for the changing seasons, but what drew me to the well-organized facility was the Sunflower Festival. I was determined to see these beauties in full bloom during the height of their season, and I was not disappointed. The field of sunflowers was only a wagon ride away, and I could gather/trim as many as I could carry (they were heavy!), paying for my bouquet upon departure. Additionally, there was live music, plenty of food choices, games for the entire family, and seasonal merchandise to purchase. I have a feeling no matter what the season, Shadybrook will be a place to revisit again and again.
Asbury Park Boardwalk – I am a beach girl, through and through, but I had never been to the beach town that claims Bruce Springsteen as their homegrown son. With a little bit of summer left, I ventured on a day trip to sit on the beach and walk the boardwalk from which the Boss garnered so much material. Parking was easy, the one-day beach tag was $6, and the beach and boards were clean and engaging. It was easy to understand where Bruce got his inspiration; a video showed the history of the boardwalk through the decades. And yes, there really is a Madame Marie’s fortune teller waiting to read your palm. The famous Stone Pony bar is a block off the boardwalk and still thrives with live, sold-out shows. Plus, a revitalization seems to be going on surrounding the boardwalk which is always a positive sign for tourism and the economy. I have a sneaky suspicion I will be returning for another dose of nostalgia.
Do not even get me started on outdoor concerts. Mann Music Center, here I come!
Be one with nature before summer is gone. Oh, and if you are looking for me, I will be in the backyard enjoying my outdoor time.
The girl of summer,