Ten Reasons to Love Summer

At 1:06 p.m. ET, summer officially begins according to astronomers in high places.

The solstice is an auspicious occasion for this summer baby, who is much happier in sandals than boots, seeking the rays of the sun than the force of an icy wind (see accompanying pic for proof positive).


Yours truly, around the age of five, preparing for a career in the circus. (Family photo)

Just saying that summer is here makes me smile. There's an old James Taylor tune, "Summer's Here" from his album "Dad Loves His Work" that takes the words right out of my mouth:

Summer's here, I'm for that
I got my rubber sandals, got my straw hat,
I got my cold beer, I'm just glad that it's here...
Summer's here, that suits me fine, it may rain today cuz I don't mind
It's my favorite time of the year and I'm glad that it's here...

And without sounding too much like David Letterman, I share my top 10 reasons to love this time of year -- with food and drink in mind, of course:

1. It's okay to drink your dinner -- gazpacho, melon soups, margaritas....

2. Eating with your hands is de rigueur -- gnawing on a cold piece of fried chicken, sucking on a spare rib right off the grill, pounding the shells of hard crabs and extracting the meat from within. And napkins -- who needs'em when you got a patch of grass or the ocean nearby?

3. There's license to slurp with abandon -- popsicles, ice cream, fresh peaches, watermelon, sno-cones, crawfish heads and...

4. There's license to chomp and sink your teeth into food that involves your whole face -- corn on the cob, cotton candy and funnel cake.

5. Nature's heady perfumes are everywhere -- basil, mint, honeysuckle, jasmine, a ripe tomato...

6. There's an endless spectacle of smoke and fire -- cedar planking fish, skewers and kebabs, fireflies, fireworks, fresh chilies, beach bonfires, holes in the ground for pig spits...

7. The outside becomes the inside -- porches, decks, backyards, parks, on the dock, under the boardwalk -- this is where we cook and eat.

8. Fruit and vegetables are at their peak -- abundant and varied, stoned, berried, meloned, peppered and squashed -- making it the easiest time of the year to be a vegetarian.

9. Days are long, which means six just feels too early for supper, and there's actually time to do something other than rush home from work. We make way for fun and games, brightly colored cocktails, a slippy slide, a bike ride, a walk in the woods. We give ourselves permission to slow down, let go, put away the socks for a few months and let our feet dance in the grass.

10. It's a time to travel out of the familiar and eat the jewels of lands faraway -- salmon in the Pacific Northwest, lobster and blueberries in the corners of Maine, cherries in Michigan, shrimp in Mississippi.

Please add to the list and share your love for summer in the comments area below.

By Kim ODonnel |  June 21, 2007; 9:19 AM ET Summer
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Comments

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BLTs! I only eat BLTs in the summer with wonderfully ripe tomatoes from the garden/farmers market. Yum!

Posted by: NAC | June 21, 2007 11:35 AM

I second that, NAC--nothing better than a homegrown tomato still warm from the garden sliced onto a BLT sandwich, except maybe some fresh peach cobbler for dessert, or homemade peach ice cream! Doesn't get much better than that!

Posted by: Ten Mile, TN | June 21, 2007 1:05 PM

Thanks for reminding me that there is a reason to like summer - the fresh fruits (homemade peach ice cream!) and vegetables (tomato sandwiches) are wonderful! Other than that, get me out of the heat and humidity!

Posted by: SC Native | June 21, 2007 1:20 PM

Oh Kim, thank you for writing this list. I tell my boyfriend how happy I am it's summer (for these very same reasons) at least five times a day. Perhaps now I'll just reference the list :-)

Posted by: Cat | June 21, 2007 4:00 PM

Ahhh...summertime. I love the late evenings that are not hot, but not cool, either. Add a light breeze and you might as well be in heaven.

Posted by: JDavid | June 21, 2007 5:41 PM

Icy cold beer with a cheeseburger hot off the grill! MMMMM!

Posted by: rmh | June 21, 2007 9:34 PM

June 21 is my birthday so I am definately a summer girl. I much prefer the worst of summer (sun burn, mosquito bites) to the best of winter (hot cocco, fireplaces). Hands down, flip flops, sand in my hair and a big "wooter" ice make me very happy. Being older now doesn't stop me from spitting watermelon seeds at the closest victim.

Posted by: Summer baby | June 22, 2007 4:53 PM

I really don't like summer weather, but I love summer food. Our first signal that summer was official was when my mom or aunt picked the first ripe watermelon. We would jump around them until we got our first slice of that warm sweet fruit. I miss those days.

Posted by: LisaLuvs2Cook | June 25, 2007 2:40 PM

SOFT SHELL CRABS!!!!!!! YUMMMMM!!!!!

Posted by: Amanda | June 28, 2007 2:25 PM

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