Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Summer in the South

Wilson Crawford

As the cicadas start their noisy but oddly comforting summer symphony, I know that autumn with its trees dressed in their coats of many colors is not too far away. A sense of disappointment, then panic, sets in. I do not enjoy the heat and humidity (both usually in the 90’s) that summer in the South brings. It seems, however, that I have not yet had enough of the good things that a Southern summertime brings.

I have not had enough tomato sandwiches. A person can’t really find a decent tomato anymore to make a juicy, red taste explosion between two slices of fresh bread. All the tomatoes in the stores and even at the farmer’s market are the same size, the same shape and the same color. None of them have any taste. I will stand on my soapbox anytime, anywhere, and preach the evils of today’s tomato crisis to anyone who will listen. We finally grew some of our own this year but they’re just now starting to come in.

I haven’t had enough time to sit on the porch. Porch sitting seems to be a bygone art. People work hard all day and prefer to retreat to the air conditioned comfort of their homes. This is why people don’t really know their neighbors that well and miss out on all the wonders that nature has to offer in their yards. Even in town we have squirrels, rabbits, and a veritable aviary in our backyard. Also, people spend too much time pulling Bermuda grass, Polkweed, Henbit, Dandelion, Spurge, Wild Onion and every other kind of weed that grows so well. They don’t get watered or fertilized or tended yet they grow better than the flowers we have that do. Why is that?

I haven’t been on vacation yet. People work too hard these days and don’t take time to smell freshly mown grass in their yard or the perfume of a Stargazer lily stately growing in the garden. Too much stress, too high expectations, schedules that are full from over commitment. The Japanese people have a word for this called Karoshi which literally translated means “death from overwork.” If you’re parked on an interstate trying to get home at 6PM wondering when the car in front of you will move again, you know what I mean.

I haven’t been swimming yet. Many days when I’m stuck in a room somewhere under fluorescent lights, I think about the days of carefree summers when I headed off for the area swimming pool on my bicycle dressed in my cut-off blue jean shorts and t-shirt. We kids would spend the entire day there, laughing and splashing in the cool water. Our mothers wouldn’t worry a bit because times were different then. Whether we spent the day in the woods, in a tree house, or at the pool, they knew we would be home safely for supper.

I must try to squeeze some of these things in before football kickoffs and tailgating begin. That puts extra pressure on me, which in turn makes me think of Karoshi. Excuse me while I go outside with some freshly brewed sweet tea, sit on the porch, and make a list of things I need to do.


Wilson Crawford is a writer from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and can be reached through his website,

© Wilson Crawford

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012