On June 21 at 5:07 a.m., the sun will reach its furthest point north of the equator, and we will enjoy our longest day of the year: the summer solstice (south of the equator it will be the winter solstice). Here in Springfield, the sun will rise at 5:30 a.m., and it won't set until 8:30 p.m. giving us a whopping 15 hours of sunlight. For many families, those evening golden hours provide an opportunity to connect and have some extra fun.

Carissa Myers, mom to Braxton (10), Camden (9) and Beckham (3), lives in the country near Ashland with her husband, Bryan. During the summer, she and Bryan work during the day and the kids go to camps and daycare, and then they kick back and relax in the evenings. "At the end of the day," Myers laughs, "I know the chaos is coming, but I look forward to them coming home and the memories we make and the fun stuff they say. That's what I love."

The Myers family fires up the grill, gets out the sidewalk chalk and sports equipment, and settles into their back yard, which faces west. "You can just be sitting there on the patio, seeing the sun set over the field," says Myers. "Country sunsets are absolutely breathtaking."

Rick Stewart of Springfield, dad to Jackson (19), Sophia (17), Izzy (15) and Charlotte (10), also sees summer evenings as a chance for recreation and downtime. Stewart and his wife, Amy, use many of their summer evenings to enjoy their family's shared commitment to the arts. Avid musical theater and dance lovers, Stewart says on any given night his family is typically "seeing a show, rehearsing a show, performing a show or working back stage for a show." This year, both Charlotte and Izzy have roles in Beauty and the Beast at The Muni, and Stewart is on the stage crew for Bullets Over Broadway at the Legacy Theatre. They will also sneak in a vacation, which, of course, they painstakingly timed not to interfere with either production.

Sophia is a member of the Copper Coin Ballet Company, and at 17, her summer schedule is jam-packed with dance, volunteering and hanging out with friends. Stewart says it would be impossible to keep up with her – so it's a good thing that she's a driver these days. Not only can she take herself to frequent evening dance practices, but she can also drive her sisters, leaving her parents home alone to enjoy each other's company.

"It took some time at first to accept we really didn't need to be anywhere," Rick says, "but now sometimes I get to just sit around and watch my New York Yankees play baseball."

Myers also appreciates the beauty of summer baseball, and she and her family spend many summer nights with Braxton's traveling baseball team. The whole family goes together, and they all have fun – especially Myers herself, who treasures those long summer nights at the ball field. "There is something about the crack of a bat when it hits the ball," she says.

On nights that they don't have baseball and after baseball season ends in July, the Myers have a plethora of other options for keeping active – pool, trampoline, basketball hoop, play set – but some of their favorite activities are fairly simple. Their grandpa lives just adjacent to their property, and they take nightly walks to visit him at his house and maybe do a little fishing or drink hot chocolate, even in the summer.

"We try to make the most out of country life and the memories you make at home," Myers says. "I want to appreciate the little things."

Elizabeth Watson is a freelance writer and editor in Springfield. She can't wait to enjoy her favorite season with her favorite people, her husband and their three kids.

Illinois Times has provided readers with independent journalism for almost 50 years, from news and politics to arts and culture.

Your support will help cover the costs of editorial content published each week. Without local news organizations, we would be less informed about the issues that affect our community..

Click here to show your support for community journalism.

Got something to say?

Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Comments (0)
Add a Comment