From the Editor

Last winter was a long one at our house. By the time the magnolia trees bloomed we were more than ready for something fun. So one afternoon my girls and I sat on the couch and made a list of all the things we wanted to do before my older daughter started her first year of kindergarten.

The list contained 14 points, and we crossed off all but a few. It’s easy to lounge a summer away at the neighborhood pool (and we did plenty of that), but we wanted more. We wanted the kind of active, belly-laughing fun that leads to falling asleep in the car on the ride home — if you’re a back-seat rider, at least.

That’s exactly what we got, and it began with a day trip to Put-in-Bay, where only four elements were required to make the outing a huge success: a golf cart, mining for gems at Perry’s Cave, ice cream and playing in the park.

We took that summer to-do list concept and ramped it up a bit for our readers. Lake Erie winters may be too cold for some, but our summers are glorious. For suggestions on how to get the most out of this one, including cocktails, beach burgers, Ferris wheels, garden tours, bike rides and much, much more.

One interesting thing you can’t do this summer, unless you’re a state-approved researcher, is visit the tiny West Sister Island. Meet the creatures that live there. The island is so wild that it was referred to as “Vomit Island” in a 2007 episode of the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs that showed how birds were banded and tracked.

Speaking of difficult jobs, we also check in with area beekeepers for an update on the health of our honeybee population, which has been mysteriously declining in recent years. More than 95 percent of wild bees have vanished, and managed hives are suffering huge losses as well.

We’ll also take you inside a fabulously modern farmhouse , to a teaching winery and on an outing to little France — though we’re willing to bet you’ve never heard Cleveland described that way before.

Lastly, you’ve got to try the rhubarb. Plant it once and you’ll have it forever. We’ve got a couple of recipes to show you what to do with your lifetime supply.

Although it’s not officially summer yet, here’s hoping that a look out your window today will allow you to declare an early start. After all, there’s so much to do this time of year. Let the fun begin.