The days are getting longer, the weather is warming up, and the air is so thick with humidity that it feels like you could slice it with a knife. Yes, Georgia summers can be brutal but around here, in Gwinnett County, the weather is only half the story at this time of year.
The other half – the good half – is all the outdoor community concerts, festivals, outdoor movies and farmers’ markets. Our family looks forward to all of them with anticipation and delight, and we have yet to be disappointed.
This past Saturday, we got the chance to catch the twilight concert in Snellville, the two-hour event that rounded out the city’s second annual Beach Blast. When my husband and I heard that the band - Electric Avenue - plays 80s music, we made a pact right then and there to do our best to get to Snellville to hear them. It wasn’t easy (we were coming from the south side of Atlanta and battling the usual traffic snafus that seem to ensnare commuters no matter the time of day), but we made it. In fact, our son even joined us that night, an occurrence that rarely, if ever, happens now that our children are all twenty-somethings.
Despite the snarled traffic that slowed our commute back to Gwinnett to a maddening crawl, we got to Snellville with about ten minutes to spare. We parked near city hall and walked the short distance to the lawn, and within just a minute or two, the stress and tension we had been feeling were replaced with the relaxed calm that only comes wrapped in a warm summer night. As we approached the Towne Green, we soaked up the sounds of laughter, of neighbors calling out to neighbors, of children squealing and giggling on the lawn and in the sand that had been trucked in for the event. The heavenly smells of funnel cakes and popcorn floated over the entire scene, smells that beckon and entice me no matter what time of year it is.
As soon as we were within sight of the crowd that was just now settling into lawn chairs or on blankets, we spotted first a few, then several, friends that we haven’t seen in a while. Before long, we were laughing and swapping stories with them, falling back into those familiar and comfortable friendships as though we hadn’t been away for months (and we have). The band was warming up, the sun was setting, and somehow it felt that all was right with the world. The insistent busy-ness of life faded in to the background for a bit, and I think we all felt like kids again, enjoying the sweet warmth of a summer night full of fireflies and promise, the welcome cool of evening settling in where the heat had been just a few hours earlier.
I can’t remember when we’ve enjoyed an evening as much as we did last Saturday night in Snellville. The band was fabulous, cranking out so many of the familiar songs from the 80s that have become iconic classics, but to us they were just the sound track of growing up. Women and men, children, grandmas and grandpas, let loose after a few songs and danced on the grass dance floor just in front of the stage. Yes, for a couple of hours, we were all kids again, and it was deliciously splendid.
That’s what summertime brings to us, isn’t it? Sure, the heat can be suffocating and the mosquitoes are as big as 747s, but oh, the possibilities of a summer night. No matter whether the event is a summer concert, an outdoor movie or one of the many wonderful farmers’ markets served up here in Gwinnett, I urge you to make the time to enjoy as many of them as you can. You get to know people in the summer. They come outside their homes and linger a bit longer when the people of their communities gather, and that’s something that you just don’t want to miss.
Before you know it, the days will become shorter; the temperatures will turn cooler, then get downright cold. People will retreat back into their homes for a season or so, and it will be months before sweet summer comes back and invites us to sit on her porch for a while, to share some lemonade, watch the children play, and if we’re lucky, to welcome a few more of her warm and magical nights.
Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. She writes about family, from both a humorous and poignant perspective. Her newest book, MAGNOLIAS, SWEET TEA AND EXHAUST (July 2014, Skyhorse Publishing) takes a look at NASCAR from a Southern suburban mom’s perspective. She is currently writing her fourth book. Carole has appeared on local and national news and talk shows, including CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates. When not writing, she travels throughout the region, speaking to various civic and literary groups, and advocating for the health and well-being of the family, particularly women and children. For more information, visit www.caroletownsend.com.