Summer 2020 was weird. Navigating the best month of Minnesota under pandemic restrictions was a unique challenge. Despite many events being cancelled and activities shut down, there were still many things to do to enjoy the sunshine and heat of the summer. It was a hot, sunny summer, making for a great growing season in our garden and made it easy to enjoy outdoor “social distancing” fun like bonfires, picnics, and patios.
Minneapolis Farmer’s Market
When you can (in all situations) buy local! I went to the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market frequently this summer, enjoying the open-air experience and supporting small, local farmers and business owners.
The cheese mafia, as I now call them, got me each time to indulge in a new type of cheese, the soap makers introduced me to a rosemary mint soap that is now one of my favorites, and I got to eat some of the best egg rolls. It’s so much fun to go to the Farmer’s Market on a Saturday or Sunday morning on a sunny day – definitely would recommend it as an alternative to buying all your produce at a supermarket in the summer.
Nature Walks & Foraging
Sadly, I didn’t achieve my pathetic goal of finding one measly morel mushroom during the spring foraging time. To be fair, I didn’t really know where to go to look, but I think in 2021 I will be ready. Regardless, it was still fun to go on lots of hikes and walks in different parks and forested areas, getting fresh air and enjoying the nature of Minnesota and Wisconsin. The best nature find on a walk was getting SUPER close to a cute baby deer waiting for her mom at Theodore Wirth Park.
Boating & Cabin Time
It wouldn’t be a Minnesota summer without at least one pontoon ride. I was fortunate to get a few in this summer, soaking up the sunshine and the fresh lake water we have so much abundance of in this state. I am so thankful to have people in my life who have boats and want to take me boating, and friends with cabins who invite me up. There’s truly nothing more relaxing than enjoying a morning cup of coffee overlooking a Minnesota lake in the summer.
If you don’t own a boat in Minnesota, but still want to get out and enjoy the water – there’s an app for that! And I happen to work for it! Rent a boat in Minnesota with GetMyBoat during the summer boating season – with captained charters available if you don’t have boating experience!
I hadn’t gone golfing since I was a kid, and this summer was definitely a great time to get back into the “swing” of it! We went twice, once to Braemar Golf Course and once to Highland. I must say I think the Braemar course is absolutely perfect if you’re not “that into” golf – it’s short enough that it won’t take too long, which was something I struggled with at Highland. If you are thinking about investing in golf clubs as a newbie – check out thrift stores! Often you can find super nice sets or at least a few clubs for cheap, great if you’re just starting out.
Urban Farm / Gardening
I recently stumbled upon an old journal post where I scribbled down some smaller “dreams” or “goals” for my future that I wanted to check off one day. In addition to visiting Antarctica and going on an African Safari, “Grow all my own vegetables” had somehow made the list. I never would’ve guessed that Summer 2020 would be the year – but a pandemic halting travel and a yard set up to be an urban farm was the perfect storm. My aunt was the real rockstar, putting in the hours to weed, but I learned how to run a tiller, plant (planting was probably my least favorite day! It takes forever and it’s hard!) weed, and take care of a large expanse of dirt that somehow turned into a plethora of vegetables to harvest.
We grew tomatoes, broccoli, zucchini, cucumbers, strawberries, squash, pumpkins, eggplants, watermelons (didn’t turn out great) Brussel sprouts, corn, kale, butter lettuce, spinach, green beans, peas, potatoes, onions, and a variety of herbs. While not everything took, it was such a fun experiment and it provided literally weeks of fresh produce. I barely had to go to the grocery store for a lot of staple items which was awesome. AND – we’ve become proud owners of a flock of chickens which provided fresh eggs all summer.
New Recipes + Crafting
I think everyone and their mother got into crafting and gourmet cooking during the pandemic. While I didn’t go overboard at Michael’s, I did enjoy a classic summer tie-dye session and explored a lot of new recipes and cooking with ingredients that would normally intimidate me. In addition to making steak, lobster tail, and scallops, I also took a trip down memory lane and made a Spanish-style tortilla and tapas, evoking a sad longing to visit Spain again. This is the first time in 8 years I won’t set foot in Spain and it’s breaking my heart!
I also made many different types of dumplings (the cheeseburger ones were the best by far) and other delicious meals, using fresh vegetables from the garden whenever possible.
Every summer in Minnesota is dominated by patio hopping, and in the middle of a pandemic, even more so. I enjoyed drinking at Stillheart Distillery, Fair State Brewery, Indeed, Mayslacks, and in our own backyard with a great bonfire pit that we were able to use a lot this summer. Supporting local businesses was a huge financial priority for me this year, thus I definitely ate out and drank way more than usual – but I’m happy to do so to support businesses I want to survive the COVID pandemic.
Summer Travels & Adventures
Despite travel being tamped down significantly this year, I managed to get out and explore a lot of my own region this summer, seeing new small towns I’d never been to. From day trips to explore Interstate State Park & the Fawn Doe Rosa deer preserve, to overnights in Eau Claire & Lake Pepin, any place has it’s fair share of hidden gems and uncharted territory, even if it’s where you’ve grown up and lived most of your life.
What was your most memorable moment of Summer 2020?