Why do I love this season? There are too many reasons to count.

Hector Manuel Sanchez

Summer in the South can get a bad rap. As someone who lived in New York for a while, I still have friends and colleagues above the Mason-Dixon Line who ask in concerned tones how we're holding up under all the heat and humidity. It's almost as if they think we don't have air-conditioning or porches or iced tea. I used to argue that it's actually wonderful down here, that the beaches are less crowded, the mountain towns are charming, the festivals are more fun, and our peaches taste better. But as I've gotten older (and hopefully wiser), I've started protesting less. I feel like a fisherman who has finally found a great spot, and if some people think it's too hot to make the trip, well, that's just fine.

Between you and me, it's my favorite time of year. We came up with "50 Reasons To Love Summer in the South", but I could go on and on. I love a good Minor League Baseball game, especially when it's followed by fireworks, which they sometimes shoot off after the Birmingham Barons play on Friday nights. I love getting a cone of fresh mint ice cream at Big Spoon Creamery on a Saturday afternoon. I love our family's annual trip up to Brevard, North Carolina, where the temperature is a full 10 degrees lower than it is at home, and we always drive by the Whistlestop farmers' market for freshly picked tomatoes. I love a good book (preferably a hardcover) and a Pawleys Island Rope Hammock to read it in. I love listening to the hum of cicadas early in the evening, how they all seem to get louder and quieter in unison. And I love fly fishing for trout in the Smoky Mountains—but, of course, I can't tell you where.

WATCH: Stories Of The South: Summer Rememberings

It's worth mentioning that none of these activities requires an electronic device. Summertime here is all about unplugging, a point I try to make to my teenage kids and also need to listen to myself. It is late May, the beginning of a season when you need to pay attention or you'll miss something truly special. If you're looking down at a screen, you might walk right by some blooming hydrangeas or pass by a hummingbird buzzing around a honeysuckle bush. This is a time to soak up the pleasures of life in the South, of which there are too many to count. But that can be our secret.

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