Thank you for gently tolerating my love of summer this year.
I hope you can recognize that I am generally reciprocating by not bloviating about how great it is every day. (Yes. This post is an exception)
I am incredibly aware that this is the kind of summer that tests the resolve of even the most faithful summer lover.
I am aware that it is truly miserable for many.
When I am in public, I absolutely nod and agree with anyone who tells me “it’s just too hot out there…”
“Man, it sure is,” I reply. Because if it’s midday, they’re totally right.
That said, I can still sit here on these mornings, and imagine some sub-freezing night of early February —the most miserable, pointless, month of the year in my estimation— when I am shivering, when I’m in the grip of SAD, and yearning for just one shred of warmth that is not the product of a throat/lung-drying furnace.
In that brief imagining, a gratitude for this day and moment wells up.
Again, I know, your mileage may vary.
Again, your mileage probably will vary…
And while my finger cut has slowed me down here for a bit more than a week, I look forward to getting back to my hot summer night walks. As I have said many times, there is such joy walking through the dark of a summer night. The air, the ground, and every living and non-living thing, is a part of some unified beating heart… It feels like everything is alive and moving together….
It is one of the things that makes summer most enjoyable.
(I get that you have to both love night and summer to experience this phenomenon, and therefore I get the heavy lift this would be for many…)
I love the way the heat breaks right around sunset too. And how if I’m on my bike, my own sweat and the speed of my bike are like the evaporative coolers of my Preston Hollow youth. Which wells up a memory of childhood summers too.
It is good to sweat, friends. It’s good to feel your salt and sweat. Your body is meant to do this regularly. (Safely, of course…) We used to play outside for hours, and sweat our asses off. And those are some the sweetest memories of all. Anybody who loved their Texas kid-summers surely has some latent memory of this, before we all became adults and fled into air conditioning, hiding from the very things that used to bring us joy, for fear of our own sweat.
When I’m on the bike, sweating around the lake and yet also being evaporatively cooled, I can remember all those summers where the ground of Preston Hollow Park was cracked four inches wide, and when Kevin, John and I played fungo until the Sun’s light was completely gone.
Playing outside until 9 pm on a summer night?
Heaven… (Throw up a prayer for John, whose Father just died this week…)
I think of all those summers, and how great it was to be a kid, and the memory of summer play-sweat makes me smile.
It does make me wonder: Do we who grew up here really hate summer, or have we all just forgotten the joy of summer play sweat?
Also…I love the relief that comes when the direct rays of the Sun are very low in the sky during the golden hour, or when they have first disappeared during the blue hour. There is a transformation of the world that comes about in that moment that is unlike any other.
We Texans seem to like these evening hours too. For example, we called a meeting for some neighbors the other night (block captains), and scheduled it for 7:30 pm. Thirty-plus people, almost everyone invited, came and stood out on the Garden Cafe patio, drinking wine and having conversation for several hours as the blue hour faded.
The starting-time temp was 104°.
This is what we do here.
That’s how we cope.
And there’s a joy in seeing neighbors at the end of a hot day.
Oh yeah, midday I am hiding from the rays of the Sun, just like everyone should. Nobody should be out then. It’s truly horrible and for those who have to work in the direct Sun, I truly worry about their safety. (Why in God’s name did Texas take away water breaks this year?!!!)
As my Father used to say “stand in the shade, every chance you get.”
I used to groan every time he said this, and he said it a lot. He would end conversations with it, like he was saying “See you later…”
Now, instead of groaning, as I did when a young man, I do it every single day as faithfully as I can —darting from sliver of shade to sliver of shade in zigzag patterns, like some Texas vampire. (In fact, I have a theory that the heat of summer might well have led to the creation of the vampire myth in the first place…)
And so every time I do this, almost every day of every summer then, I think about my Father. (Maybe this is another reason I love summer?)
So, thank you for not responding to this post by telling me how I am crazy, insane, or anything else.
You don’t have to tell me you like Winter or Fall or Spring. Trust me, I understand all of this.
(Translation: please do not say these things… Really, I know where you stand…)
Just as I will tolerate February, I hope that you will continue to tolerate crazy folks love the heat of summer and who miss it when it goes.