Monday marks the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, meaning it only gets darker from here on out. Translation: the foods best eaten only in season and at the peak of freshness will soon be slipping through our fingers. Sweet corn, watermelon, juicy juicy peaches, patty pan squash, snap peas, kohlrabi and fresh-picked tomatoes still warm from the sun. In my family, squeaky cheese curds from the DCFM are also a summer must; while technically fresh, I don’t think it’s fair to use the word “seasonal” to describe a processed food.

The solstice also means we’re running out of time for those activities that define summer to us: lingering on the patio long after the sun has set, still enjoying a warm breeze; dining al fresco, be it on a blanket with wine or at a local joint with a bottle of beer; farmers markets and local festivals; planting and tending a garden; canoeing; fireworks and parades; baseball games; and the random ice cream cone to cool us off and re-energize us after a bout in the heat.

But that all starts tomorrow, and today, well today is Father’s Day.

Governor Dodge State Park [1990]

I don’t want to brag or anything, but I actually do have the greatest dad. Wildly intelligent and cultured, not afraid to be goofy or stand his ground, and as nurturing as they come.

He was the main reason I developed such an interest in nature and cooking. Started my foodie ways young — on camping trips, no less!

Kohler-Andrae Park [1992]

Since then we’ve traveled the world — or at least this continent — battling each other for most photos taken, and then best captions written in the albums.

Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon [2005]

Dad, you’re an inspiration. The role model every daughter should have. I hope you know you much you are loved!