Ever notice how people who come here for one reason oranother, never leave? I've heard jokes about it all my life, but I don't think I really understood why it happens until I had a family of my own.
Some say that people come here and stay for the weather. Others say that it's the charm of southern hospitality. I think all of those are valid reasons, but I've come to understand that it runs a little deeper than all that.
I was looking at the Gwinnett County and cities calendar recently, something that is always available on the EXPLORE GWINNETT website. I offer that tidbit because it's next to impossible to keep up with all the summertime activities we enjoy here at home. I have to say, I was impressed. Warm weather is here, and with it comes a bounty of activities and attractions that really is something.
Many cities here roll out a concert calendar that offers something for everyone, from jazz, to 80s favorites, to classical music. Movies-on-the-lawn dot the calendar, as well; cities utilize their public amphitheaters and parks to feature family-friendly flicks on weekends. Swimming pools are open. Libraries offer reading programs to students fresh out of school. Museums and public facilities offer art camps and classes. Food, wine and beer tastings tempt connoisseurs. Farmers' Markets feature locally-grown, often organic produce, alongside home baked goods, homemade lotions and soaps, and unique craft items. Sounds like a commercial for the County, doesn't it? Nope. It's just summertime in the south. We southerners have perfected the art of "summering."
Perhaps even more charming about our home is the way we're coaxed outdoors by the sunshine and warmth. Every year, along about December, I wish we lived in a place where soft, insulating snow falls, just in time for Christmas. But every spring, when we are planting our gardens and tending our flowers, I'll see a weather report from up north or out west: "Twelve inches of fresh powder in May!" And I re-think that wish.
Here, we get excited over an inch or two of snow or ice – anything white and cold, in fact. We gripe about the heat but really, if we had to choose, I think most of us would choose to live exactly where we are. We don't have to worry about Georgia breaking off and falling into the ocean. We don't have to shovel snow from our roofs to prevent cave-ins (a nod to upstate New York), and we don't have to buy special light bulbs to counteract the emotional effects of daily, mind-numbing rainfall.
In the south, we've perfected the art of enjoying the outdoors. In Gwinnett, we're well known for our outdoor activities and resources, so well known that the County is marketed in large part based on those resources. From toddlers to the elderly, we've got something here that's sure to be of interest.
Maybe the best thing about summer in the south is not all the busy goings-on in every city (so many that they often overlap!). Maybe it's the way we've figured out how to relax and do absolutely nothing. Front porches, swings and sidewalks connect us all in a way that we don't fully enjoy in the cold months. A glass of lemonade, shared or enjoyed alone, is one ofthose simple joys that I hope we never lose here.
No matter how busy you and your family get this summer, I'd encourage you to take just one day and live it without a schedule. Sleep in, enjoy a late breakfast, and talk to one another. Spend some time on the front porch – no phones - and just watch. Listen. Talk. And when the day warms up enough to coax out a little sweat (and it will), break out a pitcher of lemonade.
Yes, there's a reason people who come here end up staying.
Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL, was published in 2016. It is the true tale of a crime that took place in Gwinnett County nearly 40 years ago. Her previous three books are written with Southern humor. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national true crime radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and at www.caroletownsend.com. When she’s not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, writing, family and life in her beloved South.