By Sarah Schrock

It seems to me the last couple weeks of school are packed full of events: sports playoffs, field trips, spring concerts, writers’ workshops, science symposiums, and family picnics. All valuable in their own right, but it feels as though most of the classroom time has been written off. So why not write off the entire last two weeks all together?

That’s what Danica Ready decided for her daughter Payten, who is finishing the last two weeks of her sixth-grade year in Thailand. Danica has been meticulously planning and saving for years to celebrate Payten’s rite of passage to junior high with an exotic adventure. As they trek through lush jungles, and sightsee the ruins, temples and shrines to Buddha, I couldn’t help wonder if it’s hotter in the Methow or Bangkok. It’s about the same, even the humidity is comparable.

While they can choose from the South China Sea or Indian Ocean to plunge into, we have the icy, chilling options of the rivers or our lakes. Pearrygin and Patterson lakes are boasting a suitable temperature for swimming and plunging. But if you can’t take the time to make the lake a destination, Twisp does offer some refreshing, cool culinary treats to beat the heat.

Many of you might remember my shave ice booth I ran for a couple years at the Methow Valley Farmers Market. I am sad not to be offering those icy, all-natural delights anymore, as they hit the spot on those hot summer mornings. To all my loyal customers who looked forward to those refreshing ices, I am sorry to disappoint, but there are plenty of other healthy and not-so-healthy cool treats to be had in Twisp.

New to the Farmers Market this year is fresh ice cream made on homemade cones. If that doesn’t hit the spot, head across the street to Michael’s Espresso stand for a big fruit smoothie. To quench your hot thirst, try a Mexican style palleta (popsicle) from the Twisp Chevron. If you want organic ice cream and popsicles, head to Glover Street Market, where smoothies, fresh juices or waffle cones mounded with Full Tilt ice cream and all fruit-based popsicles can be bought individually. A little-known secret too is that the Hank’s Harvest Food’s deli has Cascade Creamery hard-scoop ice cream with lots of flavors. Finally, check out Fork, the food truck on the TwispWorks campus, to see if the soft serve is up and running. When all else fails, make your own.

All-natural popsicles are easy to make as is ice cream. One homemade recipe for a low-sugar, non-dairy frozen treat was shared with me by my health nut friend as follows: Slice bananas and freeze on a cookie sheet. Remove frozen rounds and let thaw slightly, and throw them in a food processor. Blend until creamy and you have banana ice cream[ed]! Add coconut flakes, chocolate chips, nuts, or syrup as desired during blending for extra sweetness and added flavor.

Another homemade alternative is sunscreen. There is a lot of hubbub about the safety of traditional sunscreens for our health and the environment. The more you dig into this issue, the more daunting it seems, from the formation of cancer-causing free radicals on your skin, to the absorption of nano-particles into our bloodstream, to the health of coral reefs. Many people are now advocating for no sunscreen at all, allowing your skin to absorb necessary rays for vitamin D and developing your own anti-oxidants in your skin, and when you need protection from burning, using a clothing block.

All homemade recipes should include non-nano zinc oxide, as this is sunblock rather than a screen and doesn’t absorb into the blood stream. Mixing zinc oxide with natural oils such as coconut oil, soybean oil or shea butter is most effective because these oils naturally contain a degree of SPF. I use unrefined, all-natural shea butter, which has a natural SPF ranging from about 6-15. You can find many homemade recipes online. However you stay cool and safe from the sun, this mini heat wave is a prelude to what’s to come for the next three months and it finally seems the right time for it.

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