Summer is a special, exciting time of year, especially in the South. Warmer temperatures, sometimes downright hot ones, beckon a whirlwind of festivals, parties, explorations, getaways and so much more, and it’s truly the best time of the year. Sure, in the fall we have apple picking and pumpkin patches and football, but there’s something about summer that’s magical.
Despite the pollen, humidity (ugh) and mosquitos, Southerners know how to have fun and make the absolute most of those summer months.
Summer in the South means cookouts and cul-de-sac parties every other weekend. Or every weekend, if your neighborhood is that kind of neighborhood. Cookouts were huge parts of my childhood summers, whether they were with the next-door neighbors, a few families or the whole street. Nothing says “summer in the South” like barbecue, hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, mac and cheese, coleslaw and banana pudding (or if you’re my family, Moon Pie sundaes), with everyone on the back porch, in the driveway or running around the cul-de-sac.
Beyond the burgers, dogs and potatoes, summertime brings all kinds of seasonal fruits and veggies. I recently taught myself how to make jam (after experimenting with apple butter this fall) and I can’t wait to try more flavors with fresh-picked berries and peaches later this summer.
Also, this serves as your reminder that “barbecue” is a noun–specifically a food of the pork variety, usually smoked–not a verb. You eat barbecue, you don’t have one in the back yard.
Summer in the South means staying outside until after bedtime. In the summer there is no bedtime, and the sun doesn’t set until after nine o’clock. I spent many summer nights outside with my friends, chasing lightning bugs, playing driveway games and relaxing around backyard fire pits. Those of us with long hair know that it’s a sin to go outside without it tied in a ponytail, unless you want Diana Ross hair afterward.
Summer in the South means there’s a chance of afternoon thunderstorms five days a week. Thanks, humidity. From May through September, I hardly leave my apartment without my rain jacket and an umbrella.
Summer in the South means getting outside and exploring. Maybe you check out a new area of your city that you haven’t yet seen. Maybe you have a drink on the patio at a new cocktail bar. Maybe you go hiking or swimming in a creek. Maybe you take a weekend getaway to a resort in the mountains. Or maybe you go to the beach. Wherever you go or whatever you do, the options and adventures are endless.
Summer in the South means festivals, upon festivals, upon festivals. From music to food trucks and everything in between, you’re sure to find some kind of festival in your area almost every weekend. I’m excited to go to my first music festival in Chattanooga this summer. It’s sure to be a one-of-a-kind experience.
Oh, and we can’t forget about state fairs. Those are pretty big deals, too. How many fried foods can you find at one state fair?
Summer in the South is the perfect time for weekend getaways. Whether you hit the sand or hit the water, or prefer to stay cozy in the mountains, take some time away from your routine to relax. We all need our zen time, and summer is the perfect time to get it. This summer, you’ll find me paddle boarding on the Tennessee River and soaking up some rays at my parents’ lake house in North Carolina. If you want to go further for a summer getaway, you may try these guys out to plan a trip to the Cayman Islands.
Whatever it means for you, summer in the South is truly something to behold and experience. People talk about the post-holiday blues after New Years, but I think the post-summer blues are worse. If anything, it means football is that much closer. I guess that’s an okay consolation.
Soak it up while it’s here. And try not to get caught in too many late-afternoon thunderstorms.