by Brian Clarey

1. Grooming

Summer comes to North Carolina just a bit ahead of the solstice on June 21, which officially marks the beginning of the season. Ours seems to be starting right about now, with deep heat in the air and short-time enthusiasm from the little ones who are practically out of school. We know it’s summer in my house when I enact an annual ritual of shaving my shoulders so as to spare everyone else at the pool from my wooliness.

2. Attire

While it’s true that a grown man doesn’t wear shorts to work no matter the temperature unless he’s a tennis pro or a lifeguard, a general wardrobe shift is in order. I drop down the layers a bit and wear a lot of loose, white shirts, usually with a cotton shirt beneath to wick away sweat. I still wear boots most days, just in case I have to kick something. Form follows function.

3. The kids

We’ve got camps nailed down for all three kids: one for guitar, one for stand-up comedy and another, more general camping experience for our little girl. We’ve also shifted our grocery budget away from school-lunch stuff to pool snacks, cold drinks and fresh fruit. There may be a watergun purchase in the months to come.

4. Drink

Pick a drink for the summer. When the weather gets warm, lots of people switch from red wine to white, brown liquors to clear — I predict that Sutler’s Spirit gin will be the drink of the summer in Winston-Salem, while Preyer Brewing’s wheat beer may make the cut in Greensboro. I’m off the booze, so last year mine was the Arnold Palmer, a mix of iced tea and lemonade that used to cool off the King when he was on the links.

5. Vacations

If you haven’t set up a summer getaway yet, you better get cracking. Prime weekends on the Outer Banks and mountain lakes are already booked. Disney will be at peak attendance until September. Get something now or you’ll have to wait until after the Fourth of July, by which time summer is pretty much over.

6. Crew

It’s time to start reaching out to your summer friends — the ones you only see after the days get long and our leisure hours are extended.

7. Pool

Here in the landlocked Triad, having access to a pool is key to making it through the summer without deep resentments. There are dozens of neighborhood and community pools in our cities, some quite affordable. Lots of apartment complexes have sweet swimming spots, and some of them do not have the greatest security. If you don’t have the nerve for pool-hopping, it’s easy enough to make new summer friends who have pool access. Or you can do like my friends FrankenBrad and just have one built in the backyard.

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