Is It Fall Yet?


NASA image

It seems to me that literature always waxes effusive about summer. Everyone is supposed to love summer. Picnics, barbeques, days at the beach. It sounds idyllic.

Me, I hate summer. Give me fall any day: a nip in the air, the trees turning orange and yellow.

Or spring, with brand new green leaves and flowers starting to bring color back into the landscape.

Summer is too damn hot. 

OK, so it probably wasn’t all that hot in the places where people originally wrote paeans to summer. It’s rarely hot in England or most of Europe. And in the US, the people who raved about summer probably lived in New England.

But I grew up outside of Houston, lived in Washington, DC, for many years, and currently live in Austin. And I’m here to tell you that summer sucks.

The forecast high for today in Austin is 98. That’s lower than the triple digits we had earlier in the week. And for the next ten days, the high is going to range from 98 to 101.

This is not a heat wave. This is just August. It’s like this every year.

In fact, this has been a mild summer for us. I’m not sure it hit 90 at all in May and there were lots of days in June where the temperature didn’t get out of the high 80s.

A bad summer is like 2011, when we set the record for triple digit days: 90 of ‘em, starting in May. Accompanied by the one-year drought of record.

I’m used to it. I grew up in Texas, and I know about acclimating to the heat. And even though the temperatures are higher, it’s not as oppressive in the summer in Austin as it is in DC, because we get breezes here and the humidity is lower. In DC, an afternoon rain makes it hotter; in Austin it cools things off. (We had one on Monday and it brought the temperature down from 100 to the mid-80s. Almost nippy.)

But just because I understand it doesn’t mean I like it. I don’t like it. August in Austin in like February in northern climes – miserable. The extremes are just different. In February up north you don’t go out of the house without bundling up in everything you own. In August down here, you put on as little as possible and try to keep to the shade.

Heat is dangerous: Winter seems worse and storms are frightening, but heat waves kill more people. We do better at dealing with it in the south, because we’re used to it, but I suspect it takes a subtle toll on people’s health even here.

Yes, we have air conditioning down here. Too much AC, if the truth be told – buildings are cooled for men in business suits (and why they insist on wearing those things in summer I do not comprehend), so women, who dress sensibly in light dresses, have to carry sweaters with them.

In Austin, we’re more likely to hit capacity on the power grid in August than in winter, with all that AC running full blast.

But AC everywhere is a relatively new phenomenon. Sixty years ago many people in Austin – or even Houston – didn’t have it at home. The neighborhood where I live was built back then. My house came with central heat, but the AC was added later. This neighborhood has huge yards, because the kids were kicked outside to play all day. In the sun.

The sun is our real problem. Since we hit the upper 90s, it’s been relatively dry here, and breezes have been common. Sitting in the shade outside is not unpleasant.

There’s just not enough shade. The oak wilt took out a lot of our trees. Standing in the sun – not to mention working in it or exercising in it – gets unpleasant very quickly.

It makes me lethargic. I don’t want to do anything more taxing than reading a murder mystery. I should get up and go to Barton Springs for a swim. The water is cold and there are still a lot of trees in the park over there.

But to get to Barton Springs I have to leave the house, drive in traffic over there, and park far enough away to have a hot walk to the pool. And a hot walk back.

So I’m just going to have another iced coffee. (All us Austin coffee drinkers know how to use the toddy system to make very good iced coffee.)

I plan to perk up in October.

Posted in Rants Tagged , permalink

About Nancy Jane Moore

Nancy Jane Moore's science fiction novel, The Weave, is now available in print and ebook versions from Aqueduct Press. Some of her short stories are now appearing as reprints on Curious Fictions. She is a founding member of Book View Cafe. Her BVC ebooks can be found here. She also has short stories and essays in most of the BVC anthologies. In addition to writing fiction, Nancy Jane, who has a fourth degree black belt in Aikido, teaches empowerment self defense. She is at work on a self defense book that emphasizes non-fighting skills.


Is It Fall Yet? — 11 Comments

  1. We haven’t had a 90 F day yet this summer, in central Maine. I still think it has been too hot. But a few leaves have started to turn, the earliest red maples out in the bog, and I can ignore the fact that those are probably stressed trees . . .

    I think autumn is our finest season. Spring? It’s all mud and then bugs.

    • Come down to the coast, Jim. I don’t think the temperature at my house has gone above 80 more than twice. 🙂 But I agree about autumn: September is absolutely glorious most years.

  2. Here in the Pacific NorthWet, we’ve had a normal year, not many days in the 90s and only 1 triple digit. And we’ve had 2 major thunderstorms with showers that left the temps in the high 70s for two days.

    However, those of us who grew from moss, have webs between out toes, and learned to walk with a flutter kick, anything above 80 is grueling. I barely endure summer so I can live the other three seasons.

    I’m seeing the occasional vine maple starting to turn. It may be stress, it may be hope.

    The sun-glare headache is not subject to discussion today.

  3. We’ve still got the hottest, most dangerous weeks (or months) of summer to go. Along about Thanksgiving, we can hope for a respite, though the past couple of years it was all too brief.

  4. This last winter was so long and so extreme I’ve never yet adjusted to it being summer.

    There was this interlude … at the end of Texas … where it was so HOT! but with the police state, altitude chance and so on all in-between … it’s as though summer never happened at all.

    Back here there was summer polar vortex, and nothing’s right still.

    As for what I think summer is supposed to be and how wonderful it can be — here we go!

    I love summer. I have always even loved summer in the hot sticky dirty smelly nyc. I hate winter. Mostly ….

    Love, C.

    • BTW, you’re the only person besides myself who seems to be offended by the overwhelming Border Patrol presence on the Texas border. Drives me nuts to be stopped by those people, especially when I haven’t crossed a border.

  5. My Austin friends are equally offended by the stoppages by border patrol, highway patrol, you name it.

    Not to mention open carry, anti-abortion, anti-women everything!

    The women I met in Marfa though — they all seem so privileged and wealthy (oil trust funders), they don’t seem to even notice. They do invest their money in art and buying land for enviornmental safety and so on, but boy — they are privileged. And the only Mexican Americans you see around them anywhere are those who help serve and clean-up.

    Love, C.

    • Yep. I love Marfa, but it does put privilege on display.

      I was surprised that some of my friends in the Rio Grande Valley weren’t as upset about the border patrol stations as I was. And they have to go through those things every time they want to go somewhere north of the Valley.