Sunday, August 1, 2010


      The unexpected bonus of a very hot summer is anticipation of a boffo fall. This year, in the Northeast anyway, it better have moxie. The heat so far in these parts has been too much already.

 We have been averaging temps in the 90s, even very high 90s, when we usually have high 80s. Add extra-sticky humidity, and this is Georgia North. Fine for the Georgians but not for we climatically inbred northerners.

The summers many of us had as children in this part of New York State – seasons without house air conditioning –  were hot, too,  it seemed as if we had enough respite in the swimming areas then so easily accessible at low or no cost. Now, state budget cuts have closed some pools, and the free areas once available are long gone, bulldozed over for “progress.” (Trouble is, some people have houses sitting in old lake areas, and their basements become swimming pools, unwanted ones.)

In old summers, too, before the developments arose in the suburbs, boys built huts and tree houses out of scrap lumber and small felled wood, which we cobbled into overnight sleeping quarters. Many a present-day do-it-yourselfer learned how to saw wood and swing a hammer on these construction jobs.

Such night adventures took us away from attic heat and set us on an independent road. We all felt like pioneers or Davy Crockett. We all believed that Americans, by their nature, set out with little and chased a frontier. While, as 10-14 years olds,  we didn’t sit down and philosophize this belief, it was there nonetheless, felt deeply and instinctively, passed along by the culture and the economic times we lived in. Waking up with the animals in the woods was a free rite of passage then, and no boy came back home just a boy. The future usually looked brighter.

In 2010, it is summer heat, once again, that is promoting hope of a different sort. It can’t last forever, and I look forward to the morning and evening chill of autumn, its beautiful colors, the crunch of walking in leaves, the shift into cruising gear after chugging uphill. Like the young fellow toughing it out overnight in the woods, emerging more prepared for what’s ahead, this summer’s unforgivable high temps has cast a whetted appetite for fall.

May it come sooner than later.

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