On Friday, the clouds hanging over this part of the state for days on end finally lifted, and the sun emerged, promising summer. In a week, the school year would end, and for a few months, we would look forward to outdoor activities only this season offers.

The seasons create a rhythm in our lives, and this time of year offers long days to spend outdoors without five layers of clothing.

As a kid, I loved summer because it was a time to play, and as I look back, I realize I learned just as much that way as I did during the school year.

I spent many summers at my father’s house in the Lake Geneva area where he took me fishing when he had time. I learned to hook the worm and to identify the different panfish we caught. I also learned to scale and clean the fish, though thankfully, he usually took on this chore.

The lake was down a hill from his house, so I could run down and plunge in whenever I wished.

My older stepsister would take me on walks, pointing out the different plants and birds along the way. A few times during the summer, my dad would round us up for an outing on his handsome wooden Chris-Craft boat, and we’d water ski or just ride along while he pointed out the mansions on Lake Geneva’s shoreline.

My father was a member of the Williams Bay Lions Club, and every summer he volunteered at the corn and brat fest, so we’d all have dinner in the park downtown that evening.

Here in Waunakee, summer also has much to offer. Now I’m geared up for free, outdoor music at the Village Park Gazebo, where the Waunakee Community Band performs Thursday evenings, and the Live from the Park series brings bands of different genres Tuesday evenings. I’m also looking forward to sitting under a shade tree and listening to music at Schumacher Farm Park’s music festival June 15.

I like hiking this region’s trails, locally at the Bolz and Castle Oaks conservancies. Just a few miles away are Indian Lake County Park on Hwy. 19 in Cross Plains, Pheasant Branch Conservancy in Springfield, where a natural springs bubble up, and Gov. Nelson State Park in Westport with views of the Capitol across Lake Mendota.

Soon, my husband and I will get the kayaks out, and if the rivers ever recede, they’ll carry us along on adventures. If not, we’ll head to Lake Mendota, Devil’s Lake or Gov. Dodge State Park to paddle those bodies. A camping trip just north of Minocqua is also planned for next month.

Summer is just three short months, and it’s finally here. Take the opportunity to play, explore and learn lessons that can’t be taught in the workplace or the classroom. Thankfully, Waunakee and the rest of the state offer a variety of scenic venues for it.

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