NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE
To me the end of August will always represent the end of summer. In Pennsylvania, where I grew up, the summer weather was never consistent. There were a lot of sticky humid days, a few clear blue sky days, but plenty of rainy days. Maybe, that’s why it was so plush green during the summer. I do remember heavy, cloudy skies more than clear, blue ones, and when September rolled in the warm weather rolled right out. Every green thing dried up and died, daylight seemed to shrink and the temperature dropped faster then we could sometimes pile on the layers of clothes to keep warm. It would rain more and more each day until the rain turned to freezing rain. You knew then that the snow wasn’t far behind, and it was rarely that good snowball packing kind of snow, but before the snow would fall I remember the brisk early morning walks to school, and wondering how summer could ever return from this cold, brown dead environment, but Spring always returned and there was always another lush green Summer that followed.
In San Francisco, CA the end of August meant that Indian Summer wasn’t far behind. Two weeks of brilliant, warm blue-sky weather stretching across the whole bay area. Now, earthquakes do shake things up there, but mostly small earthquakes, and you do get use to them after awhile. To me those little earthquakes and tremors always felt like someone giving a sharp nudge or a shove, which made you lose your balance for just a moment. It also reminded you where you were in the world, which was somewhere near the San Andreas fault, but instead of worrying about it people would hit the beach, hang out at the golden gate park, and of course enjoy the warm evenings in the city. Even the leather jackets, which are common wear for most San Franciscans throughout the year, are tossed aside during this time. The evening fog magically holds back its clammy, drizzly self and provides a few weeks of gorgeous weather. Of course, the normal San Francisco weather does return and usually with vengeance. The fog rolls in and wraps around you in a bone chilling hug and the leather wears are in quick fashion again and life goes on as usual.
In Chicago, IL the summers are painfully hot and the winters are pretty cold, but with less snow then I would have thought. At the end of August the weather changes, but gradually over time with a mix of hot days and rainy days. The mornings become cooler and the leaves dry into those burnt fall colors, which swirl around on the windy days, which are quite rare in Chicago. It’s the politicians in the windy city that are windy not the weather. One thing I do miss in Chicago are the ice cream truck vendors that roamed the neighborhoods. I can still hear the ice cream truck jingle that blared out in repetition on those melting, hot summer days, and the watching all the vendor trucks maneuvering up and down the neighborhood streets selling their cold sweets. Although, once the weather starts to change you only hear the jingle from a faint distance, but I know they’ll return next summer in droves.
In Hawaii, on the Big Island, it rains every damn day and not just once a day, it will rain five times a day, and always in a torrential downpour. It gets pretty humid there too, but an ocean breeze will float in and usually keep things comfortable. On the island, you worry about Tsunamis. In Hilo, the town I lived in, it was washed away quite a few times in the past and they have a Tsunamis museum downtown that document every event. Of course, there are volcanic eruptions on the island too, but they happen on the other side of the island. I drove thru an area that was recently covered by lava and it looked like giants had come thru with massive machinery and just ploughed the land up plowing over homes, apartment buildings, cars, and trees right down to the ocean. During the day you can smell the smoke from the volcanic eruptions and watch the smoke billow skyward. At night while the tiny coqui frogs serenade each other you can see a fuzzy orange glow in the distance from the volcano, but once the lava flow cools, and the plants start to sprout back up people return to their land and rebuild. It’s a perpetual cycle of survival on the island.
Of course, here in New Orleans, LA the end of August means temperatures continue to hover around broiling with a large dose of humidity, and Hurricane watching becomes a full-time job. Hurricanes and tropical storms are expected in this area: Heavy rains, downed power lines, uprooted trees, and everything in the path of these storms are affected. Homes flood, electricity is lost for days at a time, people lose all their things, and yet as soon as the calamity is over people return to clean up and rebuild. It’s what survivors do. No matter where you live in the world you deal with what nature throws at you and then you carry on.
-Jon Scott, Tulane AmeriCorps VISTA, Alliance for Affordable Energy