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After buying a house recently, my husband and I have come up with the perfect formula for shaking off the workday and relaxing during the warmer months. The only requirement is that you have a backyard, preferably one with a pool. From there, the equation is inexact, to be sure, but it involves some version of the following steps. 

First, arrive home from your commute. Next, get out something light and easy to make on the grill, such as chicken or a couple of turkey burgers. Pour yourself a glass of white wine and throw together a salad. Spray some Off! on your legs, careful not to get it on your work clothes, and take a little tour of the backyard as the grill heats up, examining the firecracker bushes, antique roses, and rosemary that seem to grow inches each day. Check the milkweed for signs of monarchs. All the while, keep an eye out for the bats, ducks, and hawks that sometimes fly overhead. 

Eat a leisurely meal on the patio as the sun goes down and the heat of the day dissipates, dropping ice cubes in your wine—to the consternation of oenophiles everywhere—as you review the events of the day. Then don your swimsuit, dive into the pool, and float around staring up at the trees. Play a game of Horse or two on your poolside hoop; attempt (and fail) to dunk your husband; attempt (and fail) to do the lift from Dirty Dancing. Finally, save all the junebugs you can before heading inside, where you’ll find yourself wondering what in the world you did for fun in the days before you had a backyard. 

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