Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vacation Day from Summer


Here it is, the very last day of July, in the normally hot, arid southwestern cities of Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas.

And the temperature is about 75 degrees.

At 2:00pm.

Now, where you live, having a temperature of 75 degrees at 2:00pm may not be significant.  But here in north Texas, this is downright amazing.  It's wonderful!  It's refreshing and invigorating.

It's also rare.  It's like a vacation day from summer.

To put this in context, consider that the average low temperature for this date is 76 degrees.  And that low temperature would occur at around two in the morning, not two in the afternoon!  Meanwhile, our average high today should be 97.  And the record high has gotten up to 106 on this date.

But not today!

Today, we have overcast skies, a bit of humidity, but some gloriously cool air!  This is more like a typical summer day in, say, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, which is situated at the mouth of New York Harbor.  Or maybe mid-coast Maine, where my Mom grew up, and where our family used to take summer vacations.

When I lived in Brooklyn after college, this is the type of day I'd choose to walk down to Bay Ridge, a neighborhood in the southwestern corner of the borough.  I liked to hike along streets lined by big homes and towering trees in that tidy, quiet, upper-middle-class enclave, and escape the congestion, noise, and dirtiness of the rest of the city.  The breeze would come up from the Atlantic Ocean, fresh and clean.  Today, I'm not sure how clean our air is here in north Texas, but it can't be as dirty as it otherwise would be if it was blazing hot, with hardly any more breeze than when somebody sneezes.

In Maine, the rugged natives who live in the Pine Tree State would be complaining about the 70-degree heat on a day like today, but down by the shore, or on a pier, if the wind was strong enough off of the water, I'd probably be wearing a light jacket.  Of course, when the sun shines in Maine, just like anyplace else, the temperature can get rather uncomfortable.   But at least things cool off at night up there, whereas here in Texas, temperatures can remain in the 90's well after sunset.

How nice to know we won't have that problem this evening!  Indeed, this morning, it was weird to walk around outside in shorts and feel a tinge of a chill in the breeze.  I pulled some weeds in the backyard, and didn't perspire at all!  This afternoon, I went out in my car to run some errands with my windows rolled down and my sunroof open - and after I finished my errands, I drove around for another half an hour, enjoying the sheer luxury of being a little chilly on a summer afternoon with all the windows rolled down!   The leaves in our trees are rustling in the breeze, and it's not the raspy rustling of dry, dying leaves that typically have begun to fade in Texas' brutal summer heat.  In fact, things have been so mild all season, in comparison to our normal summers, that the trees still have bright green leaves, and the grass is still bright green as well.  We've no leaves dulled by hanging in incessantly hot air, or sprawling yellow patches of parched lawns, where the grass has decided it can't compete with the sun.

At least, not yet.

Sure, here in north Texas, we still have the worst of our usual summertime heat to come.  August and September can drain the chlorophyll out of the hardiest Texas plants, just as it can drain the energy out of the hardiest Texan.

At the end of July, in both Maine and New York, the locals will be starting to lament the passage of summer, a season that goes all too quickly in their parts of our world.  Yet here in Texas, days like today are only a cause for lament because we know they won't last - the heat will return, and sooner than we'd like.  Up north, they feel deprived by cloudy days in their summers, but here in Texas, cloudy days are a gift - especially when they keep temperatures so far below normal.

Summer won't end for us until sometime during the first couple of weeks in October.  All the more reason to soak up days like today.

It's not that the daily weather forecast should hold so much sway over how we feel, or our outlook on the day - but it usually does, doesn't it?  Below-average summer temperatures are enthusiastically welcomed by many Texans, just as above-average winter temperatures are usually welcomed by people up north.  Considering how much of our days we spend inside, and how little time we actually spend outdoors, why should the weather, temperatures, and precipitation matter so much to us?  Lots of office workers don't even get to sit near an exterior window during their workdays.  Yet nice weather is quite important to most of us.  Even when we don't get to enjoy it.  Even when it's as accessible as being on the opposite side of a wall near you.

I haven't gotten to spend a lot of time outdoors today, but what time I have been able to spent outside, I've thoroughly enjoyed.  Maybe that's why good weather is important to us, even when we can't drop everything else and enjoy it to its fullest.

Just like today in north Texas, a little bit of enjoyable weather is better than none at all!


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