IMG_2550I love nearly everything about summer in the South . . . magnolia blossoms . . . meaty red tomatoes and fuzzy peaches that drip with juice . . . one-course al fresco suppers of salted water melon. . .  screened porches and rocking chairs . . . lightning bugs signaling their profiles to potential matches . . . the racket of cicadas who’re also on the make. . . a glimpse of a coyote on a golf course. . . snapping turtles lazing on logs.

It’s only the South’s heat that I don’t miss, which makes summer in Homer just about perfect. It’s always cool (recent highs in the low 70s). And for everything I love about a southern summer, Alaska offers a parallel . . . fragrant peonies . . . vegetables in your mouth only a few hours after they’re picked . . . camp chairs around a fire ring (mine’s a truck tire rim that would make any Appalachian hillbilly proud) . . . moose grazing across the yard in slow motion . . . the possibility that a bear might come by . . . sand hill cranes squawking as they fly overhead.

small pitBut what’s best about summer in Homer, Alaska—for me anyway—it that doesn’t matter that I don’t look good in a bathing suit. Seriously, this is something that matters to Southern folks (and not just the women). Here’s the thing: If you’re pale, you’ve got to be buff; and if you’re bronze, you can get by with cellulite, even quite a bit. But I’m neither bronze nor buff, so it’s best not to be seen in public in a bathing suit.

kiteboard2Come to think of it, in the six summers I’ve lived in Homer, I haven’t seen a single soul in a bathing suit at Bishops Beach. It’s rocky and not conducive to soaking up rays on a big towel or in a folding chaise lounge. Anyone in the water is wearing a wet suit to prevent hypothermia, and they’re not swimming. People who are in the water of Kachemak Bay are mostly on it—kayaking or paddle boarding amongst humpback whales and sea otters. Or they are engaging in some vertiginous sport like kite boarding, and I’m not about to do any of that stuff because recreational terror is, for me, not the least bit fun.

You know, the wet suit has its merits aside from life preservation. A wet suit would not only keep me from freezing to death, but would also protect against sunburn while hiding my beluga skin tone (if you’ve visited the Georgia Aquarium, you know the shade from, unfortunately, direct observation). Plus, speaking of whales, a form-fitting wet suit would work like a full-body Spanx to compress the cumulative effect of five winters’ worth of hearty meals. Maybe I’ll get one in case my sister and I visit a Southern beach this winter.IMG_2632