Even as that lingering summer sun extends the season in Mississippi, Labor Day often provides a mental marker to turn attention to autumn matters.
And yet, even during a pandemic, there’s plenty to savor in summer’s breezy, kick-back appeal. Widespread travel might be on hold, but savoring the small pleasures that can be found in your own community isn’t.
Here are five ways to squeeze the most out of summer in Clinton before folks break out the pumpkin spice, leaves start piling up and stores are overrun with Halloween decor:
Sneak in one more beach read — Armchair travelers need nothing more than imagination to indulge in these sun-soaked journeys. Susan Delmas, Quisenberry Public Library branch manager, recommended these titles by New York Times best-selling authors, for some escapist fun. One Perfect Summer by Brenda Novak is about finding family in unexpected places. Mary Alice Monroe’s On Ocean Boulevard delves into one family’s summer of new beginnings. And The Summer Deal by Jill Shalvis is a friends-to-frenemies-to-lovers story, ripe for summer reading.
Take a bike ride — Cycling is a staple of any season when it comes to outdoor recreation. Summer’s longer days stretch out the enjoyment potential, with the cooler early morning hours prime this time of year.
Joey Poole of Clinton leads a bike ride every Saturday, rotating through a variety of routes. Groups of anywhere from five to twenty people gather for the ride; going south on the Natchez Trace is a popular trek.
“There’s a core group that meets and does this every weekend,” he says of the Saturday rides, “and we do this year-round. We’ve got young and old, men and women — lots of different people involved.” They also do country rides, through Bolton, Raymond and Edwards, for instance. There’s cycling strength and safety in numbers on the roads; join the Facebook group Clinton Cycling (already 522 members strong) to learn more and see posts of each ride that’ll share the route, speed and level to expect.
Poole, also a spinning instructor at the Healthplex, says “You just don’t find bad people” in this hobby. “Many people become lifetime friends.” With earlier starts to catch the cooler temps, it’s not uncommon for summer rides to start at 6 a.m. or 6:30 a.m.
Want a ride that’s measured more in blocks than miles? Check out a Cruiser Bicycle and tool around Olde Towne for a change.
Enjoy a splash and some shade — The Clinton Community Nature Center offers a welcome respite any time of year, but you really can’t beat a woodsy canopy for serious outdoor shade.
The Play Forest’s splash pad is a summertime draw for kids. Stephonie Francis, education coordinator at the nature center, recommends playtime with the water features, a book from the Little Free Library and a seat in one of the center’s rocking chairs, or simply chilling out on the trails, as great ways to squeeze in some carefree time with nature.
“it’s very serene… If you need a mental break, that’s one of the places to come. You don’t have to worry about having a heat stroke out there. Just release and relax…You can decompress and enjoy time by yourself, being one with nature.”
Summer’s canopy keeps the sun at bay, so be sure to get in some outdoor time before the leaves start to turn and fall.
Still too hot? There’s a remedy at hand.
“If you want to run through the sprinkler system at the splash pad, you’re more than welcome to,” said Francis.
Ice is nice — Pop by Icehouse SnoBiz Clinton for a cool treat. Owner Rob Neblett jokes that “This has literally been the endless summer” already, seeing as how it sort of started back in March with the pandemic and extended spring breaks. Shaved ice is a sweet perk of summer refreshment, so squeeze in as many as you can before the stand’s season wraps around late September.
Neblett points to Island Breeze (blue raspberry and lime) or Wedding Cake (topped with cream) as summer’s most popular picks. Also, stay tuned for Icehouse SnoBiz to open a second location on E. Northside Drive, adjacent to Indian Lanes Bowling Center, in the next month and a half.
Sips of summer — Starbucks is highlighting its end-of-summer stars, starring tart kiwi and sweet starfruit flavors in the new Kiwi Starfruit Starbucks Refreshers.
For a real summer kick, try making gazpacho, the chilled and refreshing Spanish soup that lets tomatoes (and fellow summer produce) shine.
By Sherry Lucas