Clear and Sweet is My Soul…

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.”

–Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

“There is something to be learned from a rainstorm.”

–Ghost Dog

My favourite time of year is fall. It has been that way since University. As a child, however,  my favourite time of year was summer. I imagine that is the case for most people. Summer as a child means summer vacation. Two months, every year, to explore, play and grow. I’d spend my summer days racing around on my bike, playing street hockey, capturing grasshoppers, playing sand tag and swimming at Queen Elizabeth Pool. I’d spend my summer evenings playing board games, raiding gardens, tossing around the football, playing more sand tag and reading in my room until dawn. I lost touch with summer over the years—during my late teens and twenties I spent my summers hiding in dark, cool basements or in the refrigerated confines of a big-box store—but in the past couple years I’ve rediscovered its splendour. I am once again enjoying the heat, the sunlight and the outdoors like I did as a child.

The Party Tree

And so this year I decided to make a summer bucket list. That is to say, tasks I’d like to accomplish by the end of August (not tasks I’d like to accomplish by the end of me). I didn’t include the things I already love doing every summer—attending the Edmonton Folk Festival and watching my son play baseball, for example—but instead focused on a couple of achievable personals goals, as well the enjoyment of some of the simple pleasures that summer has to offer. I wanted to remind myself that it’s not always healthy to get drawn into the bigger questions about life. Most of those dillemas are unsolvable, and can drive you mad if you spend all your time reflecting upon them. Sometimes—probably most of the time, actually—its better to just sit back and enjoy the small things. And so here they are. The small things. The simple pleasures. Hopefully, my summer.

My summer bucket list:

  • Attend a Capitals day game by myself
  • Score a baseball game
  • Hit a pop fly and hear the crack of the bat
  • Do a weekend writing retreat
  • Complete five pieces of writing
  • Write a series of baseball haikus
  • Watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy over a single weekend
  • Howl at the moon
  • Watch the sun rise
  • Dip my bare feet in a river, stream or lake
  • Go on a late night walk
  • Feel the cold grass on my feet
  • Lie in a field and stare at the stars
  • Take a long, deep smell of fresh cut grass
  • Watch the Northern Lights
  • Go night swimming/skinny dipping
  • Dance in the rain
  • Watch an evening thunderstorm
  • Play a game of chess at the Sugarbowl
  • Sit on the Kap house stoop and have a djarum
  • Sing songs with my friends
  • Make a summer’s eve mixtape
  • Play tag in a park
  • Drink a slush from Freshco Foods
  • Have a popsicle
  • Look for a job that, if it doesn’t make me happy, at least won’t make me sad
  • Continue the search for Imladris

*Note* I’d like to hear what simple pleasures other people have planned for themselves this summer, and would therefore encourage people to leave their thoughts in the comments. I’m also going to tag the following people I follow on Twitter, and see if they will post their own summer bucket lists on their blogs. We’ll see if it works.


***Update*** I forgot a very important item in my initial list, and need to add it in.

  • Spend an afternoon reading underneath the Party Tree (pictured above)


  1. Good stuff, Andy. Hope you’ll get a chance to see those stars, and those northern lights, far away from the city so you can appreciate what’s really there. Can I suggest a trip to the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve on a suitable clear evening? It’ll actually be getting dark again round about August.

    Too bad that in modern “civilization” the natural wonders of our universe are getting lost in the fog of artificial light. Sadly, most of us don’t even realize what we’re losing.

  2. Thanks, Bruce. I’ve never even heard of the Preserve. Please tell me more. I’d love to do that if I can.

  3. Our DSP was the fifth so designated in Canada; there are now around 10. It’s an area about 300 km² that includes Elk Island National Park, Cooking Lake/Blackfoot Provinical Recreation Area, Strathcona Wilderness Centre and Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, in partnership with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. It was declared in 2006. We hold two major public events every year, one in March and one in September (the Sunday of Labour Day weekend, which this year is the 5th). But it’s a DSP 365 nights a year.

    For more, read this Westworld article:

    also this slightly out-of-date webpage:

  4. Will do!

    (when I am not on vacation, typing on an iPod touch)

    (and kinda drunk)

  5. – patio meals
    – rolling down hills
    – barefoot driving
    – roasting marshmallows
    – green onion cakes
    – early morning runs
    – belinis with girlfriends (see first bullet)

  6. Sarah posted her list. One down!

  7. Ah Grabia, I think you’ve mistakenly posted your usual weekend activities list with your summer bucket list… I’d be willing to bet you’ve already knocked off about a dozen or so of those items since you posted this. I’m positive that at a minimum you’ve already watched the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

    🙂 Enjoy!


  8. I’m positive that at a minimum you’ve already watched the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

    True, but I haven’t done it yet this summer. And I’ve never done it in one weekend. That’s the dream, OB. That’s the dream.

  9. You dirty bastard, reminding me to stop and smell the proverbial roses! 😉

    Here’s hoping for a wonderful summer for all.

  10. Awesome, Pat. Thank you. It was great, just like I knew it would be.

    • Thanks for the kind words and for the idea itself.

      It was a good reminder to me that life goes on and that one has to live it.

  11. Great list, Andy.

    Well done.

  12. Stewart McDonough says:

    Great list Andy and a great project to do with my wife and seven month old daughter. I think a night camping in the back yard with her is in order.

  13. Thanks, Stew. I haven’t done the back yard camping in years. Quite the treat. I bet you’ll enjoy it more than her. 🙂

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  1. […] Posted on May 21, 2010 by alexabboud On Wednesday, Andy tagged me in a blog post about his summer bucket list. The concept is straightforward – a list of things you want to accomplish this […]

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