. . .in August in Mississippi there’s a few days somewhere about the middle of the month when suddenly there’s a foretaste of fall, it’s cool, there’s a lambence, a soft, a luminous quality to the light, as though it came not from just today but from back in the old classic times. It might have fauns and satyrs and the gods and—from Greece, from Olympus in it somewhere. – William Faulkner, Light in August
Yes. By August, people in the South are so out of their minds due to oppressive heat and humidity, that they hallucinate fall. I jest. Here we are with all of the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend vibes in the US and while most people are welcoming summer, I’m half dreading it this year. I’m likely not the only Yankee that is already wishing for fall by the time the hot hot heat sets in (that is, right about now, oh no, that was right about three weeks ago). With each year that I live here, I love the summers less and less. I need an attitude shift, so bear with me here. I’m about to get optimistic. My summer depends on it.
Southern summers are not for the weak. The sun is relentless (major dislike). And then there’s the ever present humidity, which I admit to liking because it reminds me of happy times spent in my backyards in Brooklyn. I used to pretend that I was living in New Orleans, even back then. I filled my yard with as much lush, fragrant tropical foliage as possible. I had plaster cemetery-esque cherubs everywhere and a cast iron patio set. Candles and fairy lights at night… and I used to yearn for wrought iron balconies above me instead of ugly fire escapes and clothing lines!
Pardon the segue here, but I need mention to non New Yorkers that having a yard in your Brooklyn abode is a special thing. Weekends would be spent almost entirely outside with numerous iced coffees followed by wine, and there would always be friends and family to join me. The first apartment that I rented had a yard filled with trash. I made my landlord empty it out and I transformed it into the urban tropical paradise I had always wanted. Several years later, I rented a new place with a smaller yard, but there were other cool elements, the best being that instead of trash, it had been taken care of and loved by the previous renters. There was the ivy-covered brick wall rather than a chain link fence that I had to disguise with grapevines. A deck, rather than cracked concrete that I had to cover with containers filled with flowers. Although I didn’t put as much time into the new garden, I cherished it just as much.
I still love to spend a good amount of time outside, except now I have a screened-in porch to protect me from the elements as I work on my laptop. But that’s the extent of it. Danny does most (OK, all) of the yard work. The planting. The mowing. The watering. I just can’t do outside here! The elements are way rougher. Swamp horseflies are no joke. The mosquitoes and gnats make you feel like you’re going insane. And the heat. There is no fucking respite until October. Anyone who ever thought that New Yorkers are tough never knew one that lived in the deep South.
But I’m supposed to be optimistic in this post, so let me stop going down that path. After all, I used to love Summertime and its inherent possibilities. I was the most inspired, then, wrote with a fervor late late into the night, out on my deck, with a glass of Chianti in hand, taking breaks to stare up into other people’s apartments. I was unable to ever see the stars and I didn’t know what I was missing until now, living out here in the swamps where there’s a lot less people and a lot less light.
Here goes my bucket list for Summer:
-Seek out pools! Hotel pools here open up to locals in the summer and there’s always The Country Club (not your rich uncle’s country club, but the one and only in NOLA)!
-Watch the sunset as much as possible from the back porch or my boat… + bubbly
-Take advantage of hitting up night spots that are remarkably less crowded now that it’s summer and there’s less tourists and college folks (hotel rooftop bars are a glorious thing).
-Sunday Funday frozen drink French Quarter crawls (planning on it this weekend, in fact!)
And I wouldn’t be me without putting down some food and health-focused stuff on the bucket list:
-Two days per week will be devoted to raw foods (I love summer fruit and could likely survive quite happily on watermelon all day but I’ll supplement that with big salads for dinner) and instead of fasting 19-20 hours, I’ll shift that to 16 on those two days.
-Cooler dinners on the horizon! It’ll be a breath of fresh air to make lighter fare. I’m thinking sandwiches, wraps, veggies on the grill and abundant salads featuring more than just lettuce and tomato. I already make my own salad dressing from miso, lemon juice tahini and sambal, but I’d like to experiment with new recipes, too.
-Work out or practice yoga earlier in the day when possible (Mondays, Tuesdays & Fridays are the most likely days for this). Whenever I work out in the morning, I leave with a really fresh perspective on the day! On that note, more yoga and less gym.
And finally, travel. Leaving the state of Louisiana, so that I can appreciate it even more when I get home. Happy summer, y’all!