Tired of summer

tired of summer

It’s right around now, in late August, when I become tired of summer.



I am tired of humidity, and heat, and perspiration, and intermittent hot rainstorms. I am tired of this blurry blue / gray sky that doesn’t mean anything – not sun, nor cloud, nor rain. I am tired of feeling filthy and sweaty every day.



It was the same (but different) back in North Africa in the 1980s. There, it was dry from April to October. The temperature (in Kenitra, and Casablanca, and Tunis) wasn’t extreme – not like the Sahara, thank god – but the heat just went on and on. And the dust kept blowing in from the desert. By mid-August, everything was dull and dusty and filthy and too warm.



(Question: why do I keep ending up in warm climates? Why am I not living in Greenland, where I’d be deliriously happy?)



Here in New England, I start hearing crickets and grasshoppers in August, and it gives me some hope. I hear them first thing in the morning when Partner and I leave for work, and although it’s too warm, I take heart. It’s late August, I think. Not much longer until September, and cooler weather.



Autumn is the loveliest season here. It’s long and temperate and pleasant. The trees lose their leaves, slowly, north to south; Vermont and New Hampshire have their foliage season in September, but we don’t see it until early October. And apple season comes in September. (Partner and I passed a pear tree on a nearby street recently with pears that looked pretty much ripe. In August!)



It’s still summer, but autumn is right around the corner.



I can hardly wait.


For the first day of summer 2013: A taste of winter


I like to commemorate special days, and the first day of summer – today, by the calendar – is a special day.



I’ve lived in Rhode Island for almost thirty-five years, but I – a child of the cool foggy Pacific Northwest – still haven’t accustomed myself to the steamy uncomfortable summers here. I suffer (mostly in silence) for about two months, from late June to late August, while we fluctuate between hot / warm / humid / stormy / insufferable.



So here are some photos from last winter’s snow.



I hope you find them refreshing.



See you next January, when the world is cool and quiet again.














For Labor Day: The New Kids On The Block sing “Summertime”


For the last day of official summer in New England: the New Kids (reunited in 2008) sing “Summertime.”



They’re still all so cute!



And – OMG! Donnie’s shirt keeps falling off!




Going to the beach


When you grow up in the Northwest (as I did), going to the beach is a unique experience. The Northwest seashore is cold and foggy most of the time, even in the summertime, and not terribly welcoming.  Still, we went at least one day a year. It was a two-hour drive each way, to a little town called Long Beach, Washington, which was the usual beachfront honky-tonk town, with arcades and candy stores (I associate it with the smell of cotton candy, and I was there a few years ago, and am pleased to tell you that it still smells like cotton candy). 



Down the road from Long Beach is Ilwaco, a fishing port at the mouth of the Columbia.  (Ilwaco doesn’t smell like cotton candy; it smells like low tide and fish guts. But it has its charms too.) My father sometimes went salmon fishing on a charter boat out of Ilwaco; they’d go out very early, spend the day retching their guts out (the Pacific at the mouth of the Columbia is famous for being choppy), and come back empty-handed.  Then, on our way home, we’d stop in a little town called Chinook and buy a huge whole salmon for fifteen cents a pound, and pack it in ice in the trunk of the car. Dad would clean it when we got home, and we had a freezer full of salmon steaks to eat all winter long. 



In 1978 I relocated to Rhode Island, the Ocean State.  Here you’re never more than eight or nine yards away from a nice beach: Goosewing, Horseneck, Misquamacut, Narragansett, Moonstone.  (Moonstone was for a long time a nude beach.  Then the state decided to protect the piping plover, which (coincidentally) nested on the nude beach. And that was the end of that.)



In the Peace Corps, I was lucky enough to be posted to two places with beaches attached: Kenitra in Morocco, which has a lovely beachtown called Mahdia Plage nearby, and Tunis, with its long arc of beaches stretching out through Carthage to La Marsa. 



For one dangerous moment in Morocco I thought about becoming a professional expatriate, living in Tangiers with Paul Bowles and William Burroughs and the rest of the louche lowdown American crew I found there. 



Good sense talked me out of it.  But it would have been wonderful to wake up and look down at the Strait of Gibraltar every morning while having my morning coffee.


And suddenly it’s autumn


Partner is sick and tired of hearing me declare that, in Rhode Island, on August 15 (or thereabouts), we change to autumn.



Except that it’s always true.



I mean: I see his point.  Here it is almost two weeks later, and we’re sitting here sweltering with the air conditioners on, waiting for a hurricane to pass over in the next 48 hours.



But the August 15 thing never fails. Never. There’s a slight drop in the temperature and humidity, and a few drops of dew on the grass in the morning. And I hear the crickets, at morning and dusk. And the light is altogether different, for god’s sake! Duskier. More autumnal.



It’s a month after the solstice, so of course there’s bound to be a change. The evenings are definitely darker. No more twilight until nine o’clock; it’s dark, or almost, by eight o’clock now.



None too soon for me, kiddos. I hate the humid unsettled New England summer, all stormclouds and warm fronts. I long for the cool calm sunny weather of September and (better yet) October, which are easily New England’s best months.



But so many New Englanders are summer-worshippers! They hate the thunderstorms and humidity as much as I do, but they love summer. Just because.



Well, I don’t. It’s a pain. I hate sweating through my shirt. I hate looking out the window and seeing a bruise-colored sky. Or brassy angry one-hundred-degree sunshine. Or waiting for another bloody Atlantic hurricane to maybe-or-maybe-not come ashore.



I long for the beautiful colorful New England autumn, and the calm passage into winter.



New England winter itself is a bitch.



But we can talk about that a few months from now, after I’ve fractured my spine by slipping on an icy sidewalk.



Summer solstice blog: Sumer is icumen in

Summer is a-comin’ in. Loudly sing cuckoo!



Honey, I was all about the Medieval Studies when I was back at Gonzaga U.



Here is a song for you. It’s a round. It’s very catchy. Try it:




Here it is in MP3 format, for you lazy types who can’t be bothered to get together six or seven Middle English scholars to sing a simple little fourteenth-century canon:



Have a lovely summer.




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