The Five Cornerstones of a Southern Summer

June 19, 2014 | By | Comments (6)

Ahh, summer. Though we’ve been feeling her wrath for a few days now across the South, it doesn’t officially kick off until Saturday. The Southern Living offices here in Birmingham are buzzing with all the joys summer brings, like oppressive heat and sweat-soaked shirtsleeves! A Southerner’s relationship with summer has always been a love-hate affair, but the scorching days always lead to long, swampy nights that make the sunburns bearable. It’s an annual reminder that Mother Nature remains in charge, and we’re just lucky to understand what a cold iced tea or a soothing mint julep tastes like at the end of the day.

Without further ado, THIS IS SUMMER.



Here's Orlando Magic's Rashard Lewis serving one, because summer! Photo: NBAE

Here’s Orlando Magic’s Rashard Lewis serving one, because summer! Photo: NBAE

Let’s be clear: Snoballs are not snow cones. They are not even remotely similar, aside from being the exact same concept executed in nearly the exact same way. But my New Orleans-born-and-bred insufferableness won’t allow me not to make the distinction. A sno ball doesn’t have shaved ice. Instead, it’s more like powdered ice. You know, like snow. And it’s the way to go. You’re having yours from Plum Street Sno Balls on Burdette Street in the River Bend (NOLA) or Sal’s Sno Balls, Metairie, Louisiana’s finest snoball.



Photo: De Agostini/Getty Images

Photo: De Agostini/Getty Images

There’s nothing quite like paying to do manual labor for a day. I honestly believe the fruit-farming industry is pulling a Tom Sawyer on us, having us pay to clean out their bushes for them. My mother brought us damn near every year to pick blueberries, and we’d return home with bushels of the antioxidant bombs. Everything we’d eat for the next two months somehow incorporated blueberries, which is less of a positive when you’re having pizza. Still, I can’t lie: I loved every second of it. There’s something to be said for the freshness of the berries and the knowledge that you picked them yourself. Can’t argue with that.



sun The Five Cornerstones of a Southern Summer

This one seems like a weird thing to look forward to, and the heat does drive a lot of folks crazy. But you can also watch Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or Do the Right Thing and really understand what those characters were going through. It’s the only time of year it’s acceptable to wear shorts and a T-shirt to the office–at least, that’s standard fare for New Orleans. Haven’t seen that attire quite yet here at Southern Living, but seersucker suits are definitely en vogue, which appeases this particular Southern heart.



Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

What Southerner doesn’t smell sunscreen and immediately return to his or her childhood? Mix that with the scent of chlorine, and you’re barreling down memory lane with a tank full of nostalgia. So get out that 60 SPF cream and start applying. Just remember to wait 10 minutes before hitting the pool, lest you end up with a sunburn worthy of Jackson Pollock.



Grilled Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce

Grilled Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce/Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas

For the life of me, I’ve never understood our fascination with grilling meat during the summer. There’s some twisted logic in it, though. A can’t-beat-’em-join-’em reaction to the heat. Sure, we’re hot, but we’re going to start a fire in a metal pit because we’re Southern and we can take it. Whatever the reason we decided to grill meats in the summer, I’m not complaining. From that sizzling sound to the suds you’re sipping, nothing defines the summer quite like the cookout you’ll have during the Fourth of July weekend.


All this and so much more is coming at us in the coming months as summer officially gets underway. While the sun didn’t need permission to poke her yellow head out early, we’ll welcome her anyway by raising a glass–lemonade, sweet tea, or cold beer will do–and preparing for a hot Southern summer.


Southern Fried Column is a weekly column brought to you by Travis M. Andrews that focuses on the fun, the ridiculous, and the trending in these here Southern United States. Because sometimes home is a little absurd. 


  1. Where to Catch a Show in the South (Our Favorite Venues) | Your Hub for Southern Culture

    […] to bars, house parties to stadiums, rock ‘n’ roll is as embedded in the South as hot summers and the kick of bourbon. Later today, as part of our #SouthernRock takeover, we’ll look at […]

    July 5, 2014 at 10:00 am
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    June 29, 2014 at 9:32 pm
  3. Trish

    My southern summers growing up in NC consisted of sweltering heat, oppressive humidity, severe afternoon thunder storms, followed by the steamy cooling streets with a metallic scent in the air, drinking gallons of sweet tea, playing in the creek and chasing lightning bugs before bed. Fun times!

    June 21, 2014 at 12:13 pm
  4. Linor

    No water? Beach, river, lake, creek… Water every day in this heat. All my childhood summer memories involve being in, on, or near water.

    June 21, 2014 at 9:16 am
  5. What’s Your Favorite Southern Beach? | Your Hub for Southern Culture

    […] judging from the past few weeks, the sun didn’t get the memo. It’s time to eat snoballs and don bathing suits. The only question that remains is where to do these […]

    June 21, 2014 at 8:01 am
  6. J


    June 20, 2014 at 8:40 pm

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