Labor Day weekend, which marks the end of another summer, is just around the bend. As a kid I was usually ready for it. After completing the library’s summer-reading challenge and spending what felt like my billionth day at the pool, I would start to get bored.  Now it seems like those glorious three months speed by and I never do as much as I set out to.

I didn’t sign up for any reading challenges and if I had I would’ve failed because the to-read pile beside my bed is sky-high. However, I did re-read the entire Harry Potter series in preparation for the last movie. That was one of the highlights of my summer, proving my inner child is still alive and well.

I didn’t make it to the pool at all. This is a travesty, but, one that was born out of fear that the chlorine will fade my brightly dyed bangs. It was also the result of too much rain. 

I attended a barbeque at the Beacon, but I only barbequed once this summer, with my husband, on our patio.  

That three-week heat wave put a deterred any desire to light up a grill, and, sadly, I didn’t have many homegrown veggies to throw on one. As usual, I spent far less time in my garden than I planned to. I did manage to keep up with the weeds this year – better than I did last year, at least – but I must be doing something wrong in the garden, because my vegetables didn’t grow well, aside from the ENORMOUS summer squash I harvested last Sunday. 

Honestly, I didn’t get outside enough. I went to the park to read once, but between the heat, the rain, and my busy schedule, I didn’t enjoy much fresh air. Since milder weather suits me better anyway, I hope to change all of this come fall.

The one thing I did on a consistent basis this summer was attend the Farmer’s Market. Since my own garden didn’t produce much, it was wonderful to pick up fresh fruit and veggies from local farmers each week. I also can’t begin to say how amazing St. Honore Bakery’s vegan treats are.

If you haven’t had a chance to get out to the market this year, don’t fret, there’s still time. Except for Sept. 9, when Ribfest will be held at The Grove, the Farmer’s Market will continue there every Friday, from 3:30-7:30 p.m., through Oct. 14. 

Denise Murray, who’s often behind the grill at the market, spearheads “Live Healthy Forest Park,” which recently started another program that will keep you and your family outside and active as long as the weather permits.

Every Saturday morning, at 8 a.m., Forest Parkers are grabbing their bikes and helmets, and meeting at the community center, at 7640 Jackson Blvd. to ride the Illinois Prarie Path to Elmhurst, and back. These rides started on Aug. 13 and have averaged 13-15 riders each week. A recent ride featured a 3-year-old in a bike buggy, preteens and teens, and adults up to 54 years old.

Riders of all experience levels are welcome on the journey, which takes about two hours. “The veteran cyclists are great at giving pointers to newer riders, from tips of pedaling with the balls of your feet to the adjustment of the bike seat to get the most efficient pedal power,” Denise said.  (For more info on the rides, contact her at 708 343 6576.)

There are still great things do in Forest Park, even as the leaves begin to change colors. So, if you feel like summer passed you by, then get out there and get an early start on fall.

Stephanie is the author of “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone” and “Ballads of Suburbia.” She’s a proud Forest Parker who holds a master’s in fine arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. She also works locally at the Beacon Pub and loves to hear from people through her Web site