When my children were little—well, in fact, this is still the case—and complained about school starting in August, I’d point out it didn’t mean we couldn’t continue to enjoy summer: swimming in the pool, cooking out, eating corn on the cob,hanging at the lake, going on little road trips.
But despite my assurances, they knew (and know) school means summer is ending—those free-wheeling days of flip-flops and no responsibilities—even if the calendar says otherwise. So for years, I’ve gone out of my way to find fun activities and delicious food this time of year, primarily to cheer up that strawberry blonde and her tow-headed brother, reluctantly putting on socks and shoes and once again sentenced to stuffy classrooms all day.
The result: August and September are two of my favorite months, this odd little transition between seasons. I love the still-warm weather, but also the light coming in the stairway windows at a slightly different angle now, and the earlier—yet still gorgeous—sunsets. I love the late-summer barbecues, the late-summer getaways, the late-summer dinners on a favorite restaurant patio, all the more meaningful because they’re the last ones of the year. I love the return to routine—those alarm clocks and lunch sacks—but also the sense that it’s a fresh start, with new teachers, new classmates, new experiences for my kids, which they’ll tell me about across that kitchen island when I “serve food and listen,” my fall-back mothering technique.
So it’s with pleasure I roll out our August/September issue of Sierra Living, where we want to assure you too there is still summer fun to be had—county fairs, farmers’ markets, hikes in Yosemite—as well as tomatoes and corn and fresh berries to serve for dinner. But we can also suggest interesting early-fall activities—Reno’s hot air balloon race, the Nevada City Film Festival, chef competitions in Tahoe—plus pairings and recipes designed for those cool September evenings by the fire.
And we turn our attention to more serious subjects as summer turns to autumn, particularly in our cover story, Keeping Tahoe Blue: Whip Villarreal talks to experts to uncover the state of the lake and what we can do to help protect the “Gem of the Sierra.” Or don’t miss Katrina Paz’s fascinating feature on the Nixon Mansion in Reno, a 100-year-old home gutted by fire but meticulously restored by its committed owners and a team of equally-passionate professionals. Similarly, read Kathleen Vivaldi’s piece about Lefty’s Grill in Nevada City, damaged by three floods during our wet winter, but supported by devoted townspeople until it reopened, better than ever. And speaking of interesting towns, I hope you’ll enjoy my story about Sonora, where a visionary (and unlikely) group of locals is reinventing both its city center and its future.
Finally, of course, we wouldn’t be Sierra Living without some gorgeous photos: Check out Jason Sinn’s amazing pictorial of wild horses outside Reno, and Phil Robertson’s beautiful shot of Mono Lake for Sunset Chasers.
So head on out—and take your grumpy children with you—to pick apples, play soccer, buy school supplies and enjoy one of the best shoulder seasons of the year.
Thea Marie Rood