Go Fly a Kite
In summer, on average, the daytime wind blows from the west at 20 kilometers per hour. This is enough force to shake the branches of small trees, for plastic bags to dance in alleyways, and for your kite to lift off. Some of our web readers’ favourite kiting spots include Kent’s Pond (where there’s an open field and no wires), Bowring Park near the pool, and Confederation Hill across the parkway from the main building.
Host a Couchsurfer
Chalk it up to life circumstances or just bad planning. Whatever the reason, you may wake up to find you’ve been swindled out of a proper summer vacation. Well, you can reclaim some summertime spontaneity by hosting someone from away. CouchSurfing.org is a network that matches the more adventurous subsection of travellers with the more easygoing subsection of locals who have an extra bed, couch or floor space to crash on. The advantages for the couchsufer are obvious: it’s cheaper than a hotel, you meet people immediately, and you get to live like a local. As for the host, you get an exotic new bud to escort around, and in doing so, get to see your town with fresh eyes. While you’re not expected to do any more than provide a space to sleep, it’s likely you’ll get out more than you have been. Who knows, the whole thing may just convince you to quit your job and go couchsurfing too.
Dig Around in a Garden
In order to successfully weed a fragile line of baby carrot, the impatient, high-strung parts of your personality must be drop kicked into submission. It’s kind of humbling, really, to learn the tactics you may rely on to get by in your job, the grocery store aisles, driving our paved over cow paths, and in your life in general, don’t always work in the garden. Weeding, seeding, transplanting, and a lot of harvesting requires a delicate hand. However if you want to celebrate your sweaty, go-getter side, there’s also no shortage of active grunt-inducing tasks such as carting wheelbarrows, or laying out long hoses. Farms are full of all kinds of work that needs to get done, and there never seem to be enough hands to do it all. If you’d like to get your hands dirty, consider this your hook up. The Organic Farm located in Portugal Cove accepts volunteers (call Melba at 895-2884), and Government House, adjacent to Bannerman Park, also relies volunteers for their gardens. The St. John’s Farmers’ Market, while not involved with growing, needs help setting up and tearing down every Saturday. Or you can lend a hand to the East Coast Trail Association to build and repair the ever-growing network of hiking trails. All of these organizations solicit volunteer help and more info can be found on their websites.
Go Watch a Storm
Hurricane season is now in effect. In fact, even before the season officially began on June 1, two tropical storms had already been spotted whirling around in the Atlantic—the first such occurrence since 1908. While we here at The Scope do not encourage you go out in severe weather, we have been known to take a quick drive out to Cape Spear when the inevitable summer weather drama begins to build, rolling down our windows momentarily to hear the thunderous waves crashing on the continent’s most easterly point.
Throw a Yard Sale
Yes, you could donate the things you no longer want to goodwill, but throwing a yard sale is a lot more fun, especially if you imagine it as an event. Make up some eye-grabbing posters to plaster around your neighbourhood the night before and concoct some jugs of lemonade. The morning of, maybe blow up the balloons, haul out a comfy chair or two, some tables and shelves to display your wares, and throw on some tunes. Invite your friends to bring their own stuff to sell or just drop by for a lemonade. Include your unsuccessful craft projects, that canary yellow shirt you couldn’t quite pull off, and the ugly square cups your roommate left. Put some good stuff out there too, and price it cheap. By the way, it’s guaranteed you’ll meet every interesting weirdo on your street.
Throw a Stoop Party
No yard? You see that little strip of asphalt in front of your house? That’s yours to work with. Pick up the garbage. Cut the weeds back. Break out the folding chairs, stools, as well as your milk crate collection. Plug in some lights. While you’re at it plug in some speakers. Brown paper bags. Add bunch of friends. Stir.
Volunteer at a Festival
Most of the summer festivals depend on volunteers. One of the major perks is free access to at least some shows. (See our Summer Festival Guide)
Do Outdoor Yoga
Yoga in the outdoors requires some negotiation. The uneven ground will challenge your balance. The breeze may feel unpleasant on bare skin. The strange insect traversing your mat may pull at your attention. You are at the mercy of the sun, the wind, the fog, the insects, the wicked seasonal allergens, and the gaze of anyone passing by. These factors, combined with the dynamic flow of stretching, balancing, strengthening and breathing can’t help but make outdoor yoga an intense sensory experience. But when a bird begins to sing, the fog rolls through the mouth of the harbour, leaves whisper in the breeze, or the sun peaks out for a couple breaths, there’s really nothing quite like it.
Outdoor classes: Signal Hill Interpretation Centre with Meranda Squires (Mondays at 12pm/$10); Bannerman Park gazebo with Melanie Caines (Sundays at 11:30am & Fridays (starting Jul 13) at 5:30pm/$16); Far side of Kenny’s Pond behind Holiday Inn on Portugal Cove Road with Judy Power (Tuesdays at 5:45pm/$11). Bring a mat and water, and apply sunscreen. Wear a hat and sunglasses if shy of sun-or people-exposure. In case of rain, all above classes will take place in their regular indoor studios. Google ‘em.
No car? No problem. Two taxi companies, Southern Shore Taxi (334-3662) and East Coast Taxi (437-1666), specialise in picking up and dropping off hikers at various East Coast Trail heads. Because this is not an unusual request, advanced booking is advised.
Be an Extra on Republic of Doyle
Who doesn’t want to be a little famous, even if it’s just town-famous? But this isn’t easy work. Consider yourself lucky if a whole day of ‘hurry up and wait’ gets you anything more than a couple seconds screen time for your efforts, and that’s if the whole scene isn’t dropped completely. But if you want to see what being on set it all about and maybe catch a glimpse of star or two, this would be a way to do it. Casting by Maggie is the agency connecting extras to ROD as well as for other projects. Visit castingbymaggie.com or their Facebook group to register in their database, and they will contact you if and when you’re needed—but from time to time there are calls for crowd scenes that are sort of a free-for-all for whoever shows up.
As I recall, the few scraps of last summer’s hot weather happened during the work week. On these days, and, again, there were a precious few, when 5 o’clock hit I’d hop into a phone booth, throw on some sort of swim gear (or not), grab an already-packed Super beach bag from under my desk, and bee-line it to a nearby pond where I’d swim a bit, practice my back-float and bob in the waves. On the hottest days, the air stays warm ‘til about 7pm, and on the plus side the sun isn’t strong enough at that time of day to warrant a whole lot of suncreen. But then the bugs come out it gets cold fast. Check out our handy-dandy swimming hole map.
Go on a Moonlight Walk
When the moon is out and the sky is clear take a late night walk on the Grand Concourse trail with somebody. It’s an altogether different experience than during the day. Bring a flashlight or headlamp in case of clouds.
Watch Movies Outdoors
Digital projectors are getting cheaper all the time, and chances are you might already know someone who owns one. You’ll also need an outdoor space to make the outdoor theatre, somewhere to plug in, and someplace to hang a white sheet. Laptop, speakers, extension cord and seating (what the heck, why not haul out the couch?) are also required, and, yes, it’s totally worth it. Watch movies, watch YouTube, music videos, whatever. Or just take your chair and head over to Solomon’s Lane (Ship Pub alley) and Water Street any Monday night in July to see an outdoor movie with the masses for free.
What’s your favourite awesome summer activities?