Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Last Days of Summer

It's the middle of August here in the Pacific Northwest, the East side of Puget Sound, to be exact. This afternoon around 5:30 I stepped outside to give the chickens some scraps, and instead of a blast of heat at the end of a blindingly sunny Summer day, I was met with a soft, barely cool breeze. What a difference from the years I spent in Northern California, where I pretty much just hid for six months of the year until the heat wave passed. Right now in Stockton and L.A. and Sacramento people are cranking their air conditioners day and night, while up here we manage to keep things under control with an "open windows at night, closed and shuttered during the day" policy. Usually this means just closing up whichever side of the house is in sun at the moment, and leaving the other sides open to the breeze, unless it gets over 80 F at which point I batten the hatches and turn on a couple of ceiling fans.

As a native-born Washingtonian, this is a time of year I loathed in California. After months of unbearable heat which never seemed to abate, I was ready to jump in front of a bus by August, knowing that the worst was far from over and probably wouldn't be until darned near Halloween. As a little kid growing up near Seattle, my memories of Halloween involved much whining about having to wear a coat over my costume to go trick-or-treating. Now I'm just grateful that I'm back where Autumn actually means "cooler weather", and "back to school" clothes involved new sweaters, wool skirts, courderoy pants, and a new coat of some kind. Ordering socks and sweaters from the Sears catalog was an end-of-Summer ritual that heralded both the advents of the school and Holiday seasons, as well as in our household both my and my sister's October birthdays.

The landscape, especially this year with the crazy dry weather, is scorched and brown, but the daytime high temperatures are manageable for even this heat weenie. The breeze even at midday is refreshing. The sun is setting at a more reasonable hour. The leaves on the maple trees are browning early because of our unseasonably hot and dry Summer, which adds to a feeling that Fall is just around the corner. The apple tree is full, and it's just about time to get picking before the crows get into their annual "take just one big bite out of each apple" routine. Time to fill the kitchen with the smell of apples and cinnamon. Extra perk of not being a little kid anymore: I don't have to wear a coat over my Halloween costume if I don't want to.