I traveled a lot as a child. The only daughter in a military family, I was privy to multiple cultures and climates. My time in Ipswich, England proved, you can go swimming in 70° temperatures and not freeze to death. For three years, I rode my bike around the neighborhood, climbed fruit trees, and waited not very patiently until the thermometer broke 69° to join my school friends in the local public pool. Life was great, pleasures were simple, and moving my body wasn’t a conscience effort. I moved without an agenda, no exercise plan, or pedometer to be sure I walked long enough, and no trainer telling me if I was using proper form. I got up, ate, and went.
During my travels, one thing that stands out, especially as I reminisce about my early years, is the fact that no matter where I lived, children were always playing… outdoors! We were like the traditional postman “…through rain, snow, sleet, or gloom of night…” nothing prevented us from our appointed, fun. Odd isn’t it, today we have to prod and bribe our family members just to get them off the couch, away from the television or video games, in order to do what most of us embraced in our youth. “Ah, what a world, what a world….”
Lucky for us in the Lone Star State, temperature is seldom a factor that prevents outdoor activities. Unlucky for us, we have gotten into the habit of work, rest, eat, rest again, and work. We have embraced this pattern, so much so that we don’t set aside time for fun, pure simple fun. Well now is the time to get a spring back into our step and I know exactly what we can do.
We can begin today by planning purposed fun! I suggest some ideas we can all implement with our spouse, children, and friends to make this time of year our “springboard” to fulfilled relationships and good health. Yes, good health can be the byproduct of fun, I promise. Listed below are practical tips we can all embrace.
- Make a hop-scotch board on your sidewalk (don’t let age detour you) and challenge family members or neighbors to a weekend competition. Winner chooses a restaurant for dinner and gets to bring a friend. (if they’re younger than 7, they can choose a television show or movie)
- Map out some locations around town that include up-hill and down-hill climbing. Make walking sticks out of nearby cedar tree limbs (strip the bark down to the shiny wood) then challenge some neighbors to a family hike. (be sure to start out slow and simple – short distances ensure quick recovery) Afterwards invite them to your place for a backyard Bar-B-Q and be sure to serve our Suck-the-Chip-Dry salsa. (see recipe)
- Create a family garden. No matter the size of your property, you can build a raised-bed garden (check local lumber stores for a book or go online) then plant vegetables you’ve never tried before. Or if you have never had a garden, plant the regulars – tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, radishes, green beans, and don’t forget, the jalapenos. Be sure to check the length of time to maturity and plan a harvest party with your neighbors or church family. (this would be another great challenge you could put out into the neighborhood
SUCK-THE-CHIP-DRY SALSA (recipe given to me by my good friend Melissa R)
1-large can diced tomatoes (with juice)
1/3 bunch Cilantro (snipped into small pieces)
1-can whole green chilies (drained)
½ large white Onion (quartered)
2-med Serrano peppers (quartered) use less for a milder flavor
Add all of the ingredients, in order listed, into a blender. Zap on low for just a few seconds at a time until the ingredients are blended not pureed. The results should be a slightly chunky salsa with a wonderful bouquet of freshness that tantalizes your senses and a bite that says hello but doesn’t stay for desert.
I’d love to get any of your recipes or activities you would like to share with the rest of us.