No Bucket List Summer

It was 54 degrees when I woke up this morning, opened my window and greedily inhaled this prelude to fall.  

But, it’s still August.  Even by the most liberal application of seasons summer does not end until after Labor Day weekend, despite having packed up our giant pool bag and replaced it with backpacks.

You might have gathered that fall is my favorite.  

I’ve got this huge chalkboard in the entryway of my home that I change with the seasons.  You might remember it, it’s the one that also doubles as a cover for giant, misplaced drill marks?  It’s the most Pinteresty thing in our home, and I love trying my hand at different fonts with multi-colored chalk paints. 

Last year’s bucket list at the start of summer

For the most part, the board has become a revolving seasonal bucket list, a sort of cutesy, less stressful version of a to-do list for those of us who have an aversion to actual to-do lists.  I convinced myself that if I wrote out all of the fanciful joys of a given season in bright colors, they would feel more like friendly reminders than a task list to be completed.  Hayride!  Bonfire!  Apple picking! 

But the truth is those chalkboards still left me with a sense of anxiety, a heightened awareness of the passing of time and a fear of missing out.  August 31st would find me panicking, “Kids!  Get in the car now!  We only have eight hours to hit the water park, have lunch at the farmer’s market, go strawberry picking and make it to the summer concert series!  What do you mean strawberries are out of season?  We didn’t check it off the list!  Go, go, GO!”  

In short, if we didn’t get to all of the happy suggestions, I felt like I had failed the season in some way.

Last May, as the end of the school year approached and sunscreen hit the shelves at Target, I pulled the chalkboard down to start this summer’s bucket list and just couldn’t do it.   Instead, I went with an entirely out of context use of the lyric from Porgy and Bess –  “Summertime and the living is easy” –  and decided to face the summer without a bucket list.  

Here’s what happened:

We “missed” a few things that I’m sure would have ended up on that list.  A trip to the Muny.  Six Flags.  Homemade ice cream.  Those sneaky strawberries. 

But we also did a lot of things we never would have thought to put on the chalkboard.  Spontaneous day trips.  Playing in June’s abundant rain showers.  Spending a day creating a hideout under the basement stairs.  Board game tournaments.  Creek walking.  Hours of uninterrupted play with the neighborhood kids coming and going.  

So now it’s the end of August.  School is back in session and we’ve entered summer’s final days.  For the first time in years, I don’t feel that familiar sense of urgency at summer’s end, panic to wrap up the bucket list, sadness that it is coming to a close.  We’ve had a good summer, a sweet summer, a slow summer, an imperfect summer.  

I’m sure there is more at play here than the lack of a chalkboard bucket list, but just in case, I’m taking suggestions for a fall-themed quote.  Bonus points for lyrics from musical theater.

2 thoughts on “No Bucket List Summer

  1. I think your summer sounds glorious. I confess, I did think about creating a “bucket list” of things that I wanted to do – sort of a “last chance before kindergarten” list. And then I didn't. And then the summer flew by, and then I figured out I was okay with it.

    It's not music theater, sadly, but I submit “October's Bright Blue Weather,” for your fall theme. 🙂 (


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