6 Activities to Get You Through Your End-of-Summer Slump

The Bay Area has a couple months of warm weather left. Despite the pandemic, you can still make the most of them. (iStock)

Here in the Bay Area, summer is notoriously unpredictable. Carrying around layers in case of unexpected fog is a must, and the best beach days tend to come in August and September. Unfortunately for us, the typical end-of-summer music festivals and gatherings are off because—you know. And with sheltering in place dragging on into the fifth month, you may have baked all the sourdough you can muster, cast aside aspirations to learn a new language (sorry, Duolingo) and sworn off livestreams.

To get you out of your late-summer slump—which, by the way, is a thing even in normal times, according to psychologists—the KQED Arts & Culture staff has come up with some fun and family-friendly activities to get your creative juices flowing.—Nastia Voynovskaya

Snacks with Friends—and Your Community

Kindergarten teachers are right, snacks and friendship are two of life’s greatest joys. Why not spread the wealth? If you live in Oakland, you may have noticed fridges full of free food popping up around the town from the activist collective Town Fridge. It’s a mutual aid effort where anyone with extra food to spare can leave it in the fridge, and anyone who needs food can take it.

Okay, so here’s the plan. Invite your friends for a socially distanced trip to the grocery store. Get your favorite snacks, and make sure to buy extras. Then, find a nearby park. After your squad gets a chance to catch up and eat together, drive or bike around to the Town Fridges and leave some snacks to share with the community. It’s a chance to see your pals and do a good deed. Win, win. And if you don’t live in Oakland or a city with a similar program (San Francisco has one too), consider donating to a local food bank on behalf of your friend group.—Nastia Voynovskaya

Take Stock of the Weather

In mid-May, without fanfare or explanation, director David Lynch started posting daily weather reports on his YouTube channel. For those more intimately familiar with the auteur’s experimental (and often Dadaist) oeuvre, it was a return to form: In the aughts, Lynch routinely commented on the weather from the same spot in his home. There’s something innately comforting about Lynch’s steady cadence, as well as his insistence, at the end of each clip, that everyone have a great day.

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Take a page from Lynch’s playbook and start off each day by remarking on its unique properties. With so much of our lives reduced to indoor, repetitive tasks, taking stock of temperatures, clouds, breezes and ambient moisture can help expand one’s sense of how today might actually be different from yesterday. New experiences! Imagine that. This Lynchian act can be as simple as poking one’s head out a window, or as complicated as setting up your own weather station.—Sarah Hotchkiss

Turn Your Daily Walk Into a Scavenger Hunt

If you’re like me, you try to get outside every day for a walk. And you’re very familiar with every square foot within a half-mile radius of your house—almost to the point of boredom. I’ve started injecting some idle fun into these walks with friends or family with a Quarantine Scavenger Hunt: I’ll make identical lists of 10-15 things people could possibly see on the walk, and hand them out to each person. They’re as simple as “food on the ground” or “a bicycle in a state of disrepair,” and as convoluted as “a person who looks like they belong to the illuminati.” In fact, while making your list of items, you can utilize your knowledge of the neighborhood to surprise your contestants. (That toilet painted blue, two streets over? Add it to the list and let someone else spot it first, surprised that they actually crossed off “a blue-painted toilet.”) Think of it as a walking version of those old “Highway Bingo” games, and make sure you give a ridiculous prize to the winner who spots the most items first.—Gabe Meline

Feeding Wildlife

When my beloved dog Besito died at the end of May, what followed were several weeks of willful laziness. Without a tiny creature in the house forcing me outside three times a day, I found myself rather unmotivated to get out and exercise. Until one Sunday, starved of animal companionship, I remembered how incredibly tame the squirrels on the UC Berkeley campus are. I armed myself with a bag of unsalted walnuts and strolled for two hours, searching for squirrels and then gleefully hand-feeding them. (If you’ve never experienced a tiny squirrel hand in yours, I cannot recommend it enough.)

The following weekend, I walked the perimeter of Lake Merritt, feeding raw pumpkin seeds to geese along the way. I have since escalated to picking up tubs of species-appropriate food from pet stores and feeding the turtles in Golden Gate Park’s Stow Lake, and the lagoon at the Palace of Fine Arts. (The latter wins extra points for also introducing me to some humongous, ravenous fish who swam to the edge of the water in search of a snack.) Sadly, the gathering of about 100 pelicans I recently saw at Pier 39 had to go hungry—I’m not carrying around a bag of fish with me. Yet.—Rae Alexandra

Send a Fish in the Mail

OK! Now that I have your attention, do not send a fish in the mail. However, you can send pretty much anything that you’re able to get an address and some stamps on. Tuck a letter into an old shoe and tape it up with duct tape. Repurpose an airline barf bag as an envelope. Fold up some photos and magazine cutouts into an old DVD case. Write a letter and stuff it into a used box of macaroni and cheese. The possibilities are endless!

It’s a testament to the dedication of the United States Postal Service that its carriers will, whenever possible, deliver the mail, no matter how creative its container. Your friends will get a kick out of it, and you’ll be supporting the post office when it needs it most. Just don’t send a fish to your friend in a manila envelope during the hottest month of the year. The post office will deliver it all the way to the door slot of your friend’s house, and your friend might have just left town for a few days, and then when they get back home their entire house will reek of decaying flesh. Not that I’d know know anything about that!—Gabe Meline

Growing houseplants from foraged cuttings is a satisfying hobby. (Urmila Ramakrishnan)

Forage and Become a Botanist

Notice a pretty plant you really want on your daily walk? Bring a scissors along and take a cutting of it (as long as it’s not a state or national park). You don’t need to pay $350 for that potted monstera. Instead, through plant swaps or online portals, you can get cuttings for free or really cheap. When taking a cutting, make sure to cut where there is a node, or where there are leaves. You’ll take that, take off the leaves at the node and put it into a jar of water. You’ll want to top off the jar every day and change the water every couple of days. Soon, you’ll have glass jars all around your humble abode, filled with cool art-like plants with visible roots.

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If you’re ready to get dirty, the cuttings should be ready to plant when there looks like there are substantial roots growing. For those who are culinarily inclined, you can do this with herbs too.—Urmila Ramakrishnan