Summer has arrived here in Northern California and all this sunshine begs for fun things to do outside, which often also happen to be green. I tend to go outside at even the slightest hint of sunshine (then again, I’ve also been known to walk the dog in the rain just for fun), and do whatever it was I was doing inside, out under the sky. For instance, I’m sitting at an old-fashioned school desk, replete with wooden cross-bars under my seat for holding my books, and peeling green paint; outside; half under the Wysteria-covered arbor and half in the sun (the computer screen is oh-so-much easier to see in the shade); occasionally throwing the ball for my dog, who earlier got a little bath during the watering of the lettuce.
As I sit here considering the glistening, black-bottomed pool, I’m also considering the possibilities for the weekend:
1. Plant some organic lettuce. It’s so fun to open up your front door (or back door, or kitchen window) and snip off a few pieces of lettuce for your sandwich, a garnish or your dinner salad. I love lettuce and would have thought it beyond me to grow such a delicate, frilly, easily wilty plant, until my husband forced me to do so by planting a half-dozen little teeny baby lettuce plants and then promptly leaving them in my daily care. Turns out, lettuce is easy! Oh joy! So hop on down to whatever nursery is nearby and pick up a couple of six packs of the lettuce varieties which suit you. Then, rummage around in your backyard, ask your neighbor, scour the garage sales and thrift stores, and find yourself some shallow, wide pots (you could also plant each lettuce in its own pot, which would be very cute, but perhaps space-consuming). Stop by your local ACE and pick up some organic potting soil (or grab some where you get your lettuce). You’re ready to plant! Lettuce wants its little neck sticking out a bit, so don’t plant all the way up to the leaves. Keep the soil moist. Cut leaves from the bottom as soon as the plant starts growing.
2. Visit the Alameda Point Antiques Faire, held the first Sunday of every month, which just so happens to be next Sunday, April 3. Take a list with you of things you were otherwise going to buy brand new and see what you can find. I have not yet been, but I have it from a reliable source (read: friend who loves antiques and has discerning taste) that this is the best show in the Bay Area.
3. Go to any of the local farmer’s markets held all around the Bay Area. Most have food (the kind someone makes for you, not the kind you buy and take home as ingredients) vendors, so you can take your appetite and eat there. Take your refillable coffee mug along and get your morning dose from one of the local coffee shops along the street. Use these guides to find the market closest to you:
- California Certified Farmer’s Markets
- California Farmers’ Market Association
- Bay Area on the Cheap farmer’s markets list - this may be the most comprehensive list I’ve seen.
- Organic Picks – this one lists markets not on Bay Are on the Cheap.
4. Unplug your life (and that of your family or a group of friends) and go outside with a picnic made from the organic stuff you bought at the farmer’s market (or at least from a small, local market). If you drive in a group, you’re lowering your carbon footprint, as well as not using all those electronic devices you’d be using if you stayed at home. Check out any of the local beaches, state parks or local parks and enjoy nature. The California State Parks system is vast, and their website has great ideas and guides for getting outdoors:
- Historic Sites, “From mansions, missions, and museums to parks, pioneers, and plazas.”
- Find state parks, other parks and open spaces with their searchable map.
- Find a trail by region.
- Find a state park by region.
- Visit the Coastal Redwoods Parks.
I’m likely to do at least two of the above, unless I decide to be lazy and read by the pool all weekend. Do you think someone will bring me peeled grapes and sparkling water while I do so?