Summer When It Fizzles – Bay Area StyleJuly 18th, 2010 © by Susan Swartz
I don’t know how long you have to live in the Bay Area to accept that our summers are stubborn. Lingering low clouds has pretty much been the lingering forecast. Here it is not the fog that creeps in on little cat feet but the sun. The fog rushes in like a pushy old uncle who stays past his welcome. The sun is a shy child who comes out for a brief wink.
For most of July the common grousing has been about a lack of sun. We call it ridiculous, even pukey. I would add disappointing but I can’t speak for all. The redwoods, I understand, simply adore a foggy summer.
California summers have always surprised visitors as well as locals. There’s the old Mark Twain comment that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. And what Giants fan has not suffered the chill of an August day game? Is there a Sonoma County child who does not equate summer swim lessons with blue lips and chattering teeth?
People here often refer to the summer weather as June gloom, which this season pushed into July.
How hot is it not?
It is so not hot that the first tomato I bought at our farmer’s market was from the northern California growing town of Winters. Where they have real summers. My own Early Girls are still rubbing their eyes and trying to wake up. The brave little Sun Golds are not much bigger than a goose bump.
It is so not hot that when we went to see Macbeth in the park, I wore gloves. My friends wore sleeping bags. Had the lovely Lady Macbeth not done herself in, she might have otherwise succumbed to pneumonia, walking around in bare feet and strapless gown.
One forgets from year to year. You dig out the linen pants and sandals, hang out the patio lights and cross your fingers. Here we do not rush the season, we wait for it. I saw one hopeful woman in shorts. But she was also wearing her Ugg boots.
Oh sure, we’ve had some irregular hot days when the newspapers shows kids eating ice cream in wading pools. Just like the rest of the country. Speaking of which, it has been so not hot here that a Californian can suffer Fahrenheit envy, maybe even wishing she were back in hot, sticky Pennsylvania.
It is so not hot here the dog runs inside and lies down expectantly in front of the gas heater, willing me to turn it on. No, I say, it’s not that cold. And yet I see wood smoke coming out of neighborhood chimneys.
A friend of my daughter’s on vacation from D.C. came over to borrow a bike and I apologized for our crummy weather. He looked at me like I was cracked. He’d been in three digit temperatures for days.
He doesn’t understand that some of us yearn to wake up with the sun on our pillow, to walk outside on a warm deck. To look forward to a balmy night when you can sit under the moon, barefoot and strapless.
But now, we must screw our courage to the sticking place and patiently wait for real summer. It’s usually here by September.