Oberlin Blogs

In loving memory of summer

January 29, 2009

Yitka Winn ’09

In active rebellion against the snowstorm that's swept half the country (yet, as with the darned salmonella outbreak, seems to have hit Ohio hardest!), I am writing a blogpost about the delightful season of SUMMER (!!!) here in Oberlin.

My first two college summers, just like the majority of Oberlin students, I went home. But this past summer, I opted to live, work, and hang out in Oberlin. Without classes to keep me busy and my usual crew of friends to keep me company, why bother sticking around small-town Ohio for a summer, you ask? A fair question...

The idea was planted in my head when I ventured to the basement of Peters to inquire about interning with FIELD magazine, a journal of poetry that's published twice yearly by Oberlin College Press. (More on that in a future blogpost!) David Young, one of the editors of FIELD, informed me that the student practicum (in which creative writing majors could earn credit for interning) was somewhat defunct, and they weren't really looking for any more students - unless I was going to be around for the summer. That thought hadn't even crossed my mind yet, but I had just landed my other part time job in Elyria (northeast of Oberlin) and was sure they'd appreciate me not going back to Kansas after only working for them for a couple months. Then I learned about the exorbitantly affordable rent in town ($190/month to live with a few friends in a charming little house on Pleasant Street) and couldn't think of any excuse not to stay the summer.

Some tried to warn me off the idea, saying how lonely it can be with the lack of students, how slow life would be without the usual plethora of concerts, activities, and events that we all try hard not to take for granted at Oberlin. Ultimately, though, I felt a strong, intuitive sense that it would be a good idea. I figured, at the very least, it would push me out of my Oberlin comfort zone to meet some native Ohioans!

Only one semester has passed since that time, but I've already got crazy nostalgia for the long, lazy summer days spent lounging in the hammock on our porch, the nights of impromptu jam sessions with my more musically inclined friends, the smell of freshly baked bread rising up from our kitchen (courtesy of my wonderful friend and summer housemate, Erika, whom I met on a marvelous backpacking trip with Oberlin's Outing Club my sophomore year). A few other summer highlights:

- Blueberry picking! There are several organic pick-your-own places within biking or driving distance of Oberlin, so for less than two dollars a pound, you can come home with giant buckets of fresh, delicious blueberries!

- Bike-in movies in Tappan Square on Saturday nights, courtesy of the Bike Co-op.

- Our front yard grill-out and barbecue with all the Obies in town for the summer that we could scrap together, complete with Boca burgers, mandolins, and climbing trees.

- The Lorain County Fair. This one's held in Wellington, a small town about 8 miles south of Oberlin. I hit this up with several of my co-workers from Elyria. I was introduced to the concept of vinegar fries - very tasty - and also to the experience of combine derbies - basically, where decorated, enormous old tractors battle it out in a giant dirt pit. We drank giant cups of freshly squeezed lemonade and very nearly got sick riding carnival rides, but overall, it was an absolute blast.

- Bike rides to Kipton, yet another nearby small town, easily accessible from Oberlin by way of the North Inland Coast Trail. Kipton has a great playground.

- Cedar Point excursions. Well, just once, since tickets are pricey. But well worth it :)

- The Saturday morning Farmers' Market! Local farmers and growers and artists come out every weekend and put up stands outside the public library to sell all kinds of neat, local goods - everything from fresh produce to homemade candles and soaps to medicinal teas.

- Pick-up games of soccer with an eclectic bunch of townies, professors, and students. There was an unofficial league of folks who got together three times a week to play - yet another summer gem I stumbled on, first by way of a friend in town who works at Gibson's (the general store downtown), and again by way of a few of my Oberlin buddies who'd picked it up. Anyone could show up, and games were frequently followed up with burgers and tater tots at the Feve downtown afterward!

- Alpacas. They're all over Ohio, and they are great.

- Seeing Radiohead in concert at the Blossom Music Center in August.

- Exploring Vermilion (honestly, the amount of cool small towns to explore in the area is limitless) and Lake Erie. The "beaches" aren't exactly like the coasts, but hey, as a Kansas girl, I was downright enamored.

So despite the several feet of snow outside my house right now and the persistent, dangling icicles by my window, I think fondly of this town, and can't recommend enough the Oberlin summer experience. In the words of Death Cab for Cutie, we frolicked about in our summer skin...

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