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Letter from Publisher

Peggy Malecki

Welcome to June! Solstice, Father’s Day and the start of summer are on the calendar, but we all know it’s going to be a very different summer for kids and adults alike. It’s the year of keeping close to home, staycationing in our yards and social distancing in outdoor public places. But we’ll get through it, and in the process perhaps rediscover some of the interests and hobbies we had when we were younger. We may even pass them along to the next generation and learn new things from them, as well.

Until part-time jobs came along in high school, my childhood summers were often filled with being outside, reading, crafts and using my imagination, or what my parents referred to as “my mind’s eye”. Three months of no schoolwork were the perfect time for books, which my parents very much encouraged. After reading all of the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder early on, I became passionate about exploring the works of authors I liked.

The Chicago Public Library had a summer loan option. As soon as school was out, my mom and I would go to the Belmont-Cragin branch, decide on a summer reading list and head home with what I recall was an armful of books. As I got older, my grade school best friend and I rode our bikes to the West Belmont branch and came home with a backpack full of summer escapes. She and I would get together and read books like the Trixie Belden series, for hours. I remember the summer I immersed myself in the works of Louisa May Alcott, including Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys, Rose in Bloom and Under the Lilacs.

I also spent much of my summer vacation in the then-small-town of Antioch with my grandparents. Their library was a treasure trove of books. One year, I read the complete Nancy Drew series, as well as the lesser-known Dana Girls books. The ultimate read was the entire Oz series by L. Frank Baum. If you’ve read the books, you’ll know why the popular social networking app TikTok makes me think of that summer whenever I hear the name.

In this issue of Natural Awakenings Chicago, we explore some of the ways we can learn more about our local area through staycations and by planning activities to enjoy at home. We can also plan ahead to unplug from our devices for at least a part of the summer and choose a few traditions and interests to pass along to our families. Maybe it’s baking and decorating a birthday cake at home or sharing our knowledge of gardening, car repair, house maintenance or home economics with our kids. Perhaps we can find fulfillment by volunteering to help others or by participating in citizen science projects through a local museum. This experience allows many of us the opportunity to temporarily slow down and simplify—the gift of extra time that we always wish we had. What can you teach, what can you learn and what can you give back?

Thank you for continuing to read Natural Awakenings Chicago magazine and supporting our community businesses that make this publication possible. As always, I encourage you to step outside every day, listen to the birds, watch nature unfold through the amazing month of June, learn something new about our local environment and revel in the fact that summer is finally coming this month.

Happy Solstice! Happy Father’s Day!