In the summertime

by Lorin Michel Friday, July 8, 2011 7:09 PM

Summer has officially arrived here in Southern California. For the past few days, the temperature has been flirting with 100º with only the slightest of breezes. Even the wind is hot, like a gush pushed through a furnace or a heated oven. The palm trees sway lazily, and the flowers bloom boldly in the morning before closing back into themselves in the afternoon. In the evening, they peak back out, hesitantly at first as if trying to make sure the sun and its unrelenting rays have gone away. Then they breathe a sigh of relief. All is well; let’s have a drink. As if on cue, the sprinklers come on.

The dog lays in the entrance-way on the tile where it’s coolest. Actually it’s coolest in the bathroom but evidently he only likes the bathroom at 3 am. We put a fan on low just in front of him, and it seems to keep him comfortable. We’re very strange people and don’t particularly like air conditioning, not in the house, and not unless the heat is absolutely unbearable. Most days, it remains OK. Warm to be sure, but a nice ceiling fan does wonders. And once the sun dips behind the foothills and darkness descends, the air cools, and the house cools as well. We get a lovely cross breeze between the back of the house and front bay window in the kitchen. When we sleep, a top sheet is perfect. By the middle of the night, I’ve often pulled up the comforter.

As long as the dog isn’t in distress, we leave the AC in the off position. So far, with his tile and his fan, he sleeps through the worst heat of the day with nary a pant. All is well; he rises occasionally and saunters into the kitchen for a drink. We put ice in his water bowl.

According to meteorologists, summer extends from June, through July and the whole of August in the northern hemisphere where the country resides. The southern hemisphere is the polar opposite with their summer taking place in December, January and February. From an astronomical perspective, the summer days lengthen from the equinox to the solstice with the days beginning to shorten after the solstice. The solstice happened on June 21 but the days don’t seem any shorter to me. I doubt I’ll notice any changes until fall.

Much of the country experiences severe storms and even hurricanes in the summertime. In the desert southwest, we swelter in the dry heat. Though frankly, when it’s over 100º, it doesn’t matter what kind of heat it is. It’s just hot. We have fires and earthquakes. That’s part of our summer season. The ground needs a drink; it rarely gets one.

In the summer, people vacation, the kids go to camp, the studios release their summer blockbusters. There is much splashing in pools and the beaches over flow; sunscreen gets slathered on and the world smells like coconut and bananas. Bicycles make an appearance again after the drenching spring, and motorcycles roar along the roads. Shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops abound. Barbecues are the norm. Iced coffee temporarily takes over for hot coffee, at least after the morning’s first pot, and iced drinks from soda to frozen margaritas and daiquiris to good old-fashioned ice water refresh us. It’s a glorious time, one of my favorites. Maybe that’s why I live in the desert, where it’s summer most of the year, where the heat evaporates at night to leave us comfortable, joyous and celebrating the reprieve.

The day has begun to cool now, and the sun is drifting lazily toward the sea some 10 miles or so away. I’m sitting on the patio waiting on my husband. It’s just us tonight. Our friends cancelled and that’s OK. I’m still recovering from my whirlwind trip last weekend, still nursing a bit of a sore throat.

We’ll sit here and listen to the birds, to the music playing softly in the background, to the dog stirring from his position on the floor inside. It will be time for a walk soon. It’s July 8. Summertime. All is well.

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