Photo by Stephanie Staton
My summer experience wouldn’t be complete without a few friendly, slightly competitive games with family and friends. The games have varied over the years, but one thing remains the same: Nothing beats spending a late afternoon (into the evening with this crew) poking fun at one another’s playing skills and bonding in a way that seems to have transcended time.
As a kid, I remember playing croquet at my Uncle Sam and Aunt Vonnie’s house as well as badminton in my own backyard. I learned the rules and tried to follow them, for the most part—an effort made easier with parental supervision; however, in their absence, cheating was nearly a requirement in games involving my older brother.
Today, we wind down our days with games of cornhole. Everyone gets in on the action: my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, niece and nephew, and siblings—minus the cheating, at least most of the time. As the skies shift from sunset-orange and red to shades of twilight-blue and purple, the younger players retreat indoors, and the competitive banter becomes a little more raucous but always remains fun.
We often “turn on some tunes,” as my dad puts it, and play until exhaustion (or mom) calls us to bed. We enjoy this pastime so much that my husband made us a set of cornhole boards (shown). They’re nothing fancy, constructed of lumber and MDF from leftover home-improvement projects, but in true, hard-core-sportsman fashion, he built them to meet regulation standards.
If a friendly match on your patch of grass sounds like a good idea, check out “Nature Calls: Lawn Game On.” Once you’ve had your fill of lawn games, try your hand at other summer traditions to keep busy around the farmhouse, such as canning jellies with “Summer in a Jar” or drying flowers in “Hands On: Drying Farm-fresh Flowers and Plants.”
Thinking back to my childhood summertime fun also brings back the desire to have a treehouse. I played in and around a range of “treehouses”—from a shabby platform that looked as if the next gust of wind would carry it away to a miniature pink-and-purple-clad house with bunk beds and a dining table—that incited my envy and inspired my creativity as a child. My cousins, brother and I even attempted to build a log fort in the woods near my grandmother’s house. We cut and hauled several small trees, using clay from the creek bed as mortar. Sadly, the walls never exceeded 2 feet high, but it’s the thought that counts. If you’d like to build a dream treehouse for your children, or yourself, turn to “On a Limb.”
Take advantage of the late-summer weather to get outdoors and make memories that will warm you through the coming fall and winter. And remember to keep your eye on the ball … or birdie … or beanbag. Game on!