Page Two: Summer in the City
Our piping-hot reading issue welcomes the season
I'm a Yankee. Although I've lived in Austin more than 35 years – longer than I've lived anywhere else – I still sense a certain immigrant status, haunted only slightly but still tellingly by my northern birth. It's not that big a deal; the awareness is low level and intermittent. I don't feel constantly silhouetted. It's just something that is.
Summer always brings this home, especially in recent years. Technically that season doesn't begin until this coming week, but that's a calendar affectation. Clearly, the sweltry days have already settled in around us.
The modern world conspires against summer. Air-conditioned homes, cars, offices, and stores create an alternative environment where everything is cool and fresh. Summer is vanquished indoors and felt only when one is in transit.
But still, summer wins out – sometimes spectacularly so, as with last summer's record number of succesive 100-degree-plus days, which overwhelmed everything, destroying moderation.
Summer saturates the air with its thick molasses tinge. Even air conditioning can't breed out the taste and smell of the old "way-too-hot" which has resulted in the new "forced-too-easy."
There was a time that summer in Austin was noticeably different. The town slowed down. When the university and state government completely dominated the job scene, the shift in seasons was evident in every aspect of the city.
That changed as Austin continued to grow, and the university and its shifting population became less dominant. Summer became not so different from the rest of the year.
Now I find that one of the ways the years have added up for me is that summer's pervasive presence has been restored. Maybe that's just personal – but maybe not. It doesn't matter. I more than welcome the heat sinking into bone, then passing further into soul. The season is no longer modulated by convenience, but instead dominated by a sweet vengeance.
Celebrating this, the Chronicle offers its summer reading issue, an appropriate welcome for the season. Enjoy.