Second Opinion: Summertime and the livin’ is easy

Jim Holtz talks about different ways of celebrating summer.

A couple of weeks of 35 degree weather has certainly brought home the fact that summer has settled in, a very welcome relief from winter snow and spring rain.

Everyone has a couple special ways of celebrating summer, things they look forward to doing, places they want to visit.

I’m no different, though my days of wanting to spend a long weekend at a music festival or an entire week on the West Coast Trail are long gone. The idea of enduring the heat, dust and deprivation of a crowded, makeshift campground, cheek to jowl with 10,000 other people, no longer seems the liberating experience it once was.

And between my creaking joints and enfeebled musculature, strenuous climbs, hikes, paddles and portages no longer generate a lust for adventure.

Still, I do look forward to other summer treats. Watching younger men abuse their bodies in the Tour de France for three weeks in July is a wonderful way to start each morning. Since I usually get up at about 6:30, that means I have an hour and a half or two to tune into the Sports Network and marvel at the ultra thin and fit professional cyclists climbing up through mountain passes with gradients between eight and 20 per cent and then racing down at speeds of up to 90 kph. My wife, Judy, and I both cheer them on over toast and coffee.

Then there is the heart-stopping, annual summer outing to the river where we bravely climb down the steep bank with our floaties and plunge into the raging Kettle. There we risk skinning our hands, feet and bums on the rocky bottom as the flood carries us swiftly from one bridge to another. Some years we even have enough bravado to do that twice.

Perhaps, though, the summer pleasure that is the most enjoyable and also the most time consuming is our pursuit of the perfect summer beverage.

Unlike the many summer activities that I once took part in, and have since abandoned, this endeavour every year seems to require greater and greater effort, more research, more trial and error. It seems to take days and days for Judy and I to come up with a libation that is worthy of the title: Summer Drink of the Year.

And there have been some great ones: for example, the Shuswap Sunrise (champagne with cranberry and orange juice) and the Painkiller à la Peche, (rum, Coco Lopez, orange and pineapple juice with a couple of peach slices).

This year was particularly difficult, requiring batch after batch of tequila spiked concoctions before we finally settled on the perfect 2014 Summer Drink of the Year, the Brown Creek Watermelon Margarita (tequila, triple sec, a little strawberry margarita mix and a whole bunch of frozen watermelon chunks, all whipped up in a blender).

That reminds me, since it is 36 degrees out and the sun is blisteringly intense, I think I will make up a batch, sit out in the shade and watch my neighbour finish his haying.

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