Monday, September 01, 2014

Come September

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with September. As a child, September was irrevocably associated in my mind with back to school (I really, really hated school). I was very much a child of summer; I loved the long days of blue skies and golden light, of endless lazy hours spent reading or fishing or running through ripening hay fields with my dog.

But there were still things I loved about September. I’m a Libra, so September means my birthday (unfortunately not as welcome these days as it was at the age of ten or even twenty-one). All those years in Idaho, Oregon, and Colorado left me with a nostalgic yearning for crisp, wood smoke-scented mornings and the sight of frost-nipped trees blazing in brilliant scarlets and yellows against a fiercely blue Indian summer sky. But my favorite time of year was still summer.
When I moved to Adelaide, Australia, everything turned upside down. Suddenly, September meant spring, the beginning of a new year of growth coinciding with the beginning of my new year. In a sense, it was a perfect match. For a time.  Then I moved to New Orleans.

The summers of New Orleans aren’t the warm, balmy days of my childhood or even the hot, dry days lightened by cool breezy nights that made Adelaide so wonderful. Here, summers are a brutal thing to be endured, with an enervating heat and a level of humidity reminiscent of being smothered by a steaming wet towel. These days I spend summer dreaming of its end, the same way I once waited for the passing of the cold, dark days of a northern Idaho winter.
Except, of course, September in New Orleans is still ferociously hot. Not only that, but the most dangerous time for hurricanes is three weeks on either side of September 10th. So all through September, the first thing I do every morning is turn on my computer and look at the “Severe Weather” section of to see if anything is brewing out there. Ask me my favorite month these days, and I think I’d say...October. Or maybe April. April sounds good.

How about you? What’s your favorite time of year? Does it change depending on where you live?


Lynne said...

You and I are on the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to summer. The older I get the more miserable summers body hates the heat. And we've just earned the dubious honor of having the hottest July and August on record. I totally sympathize with you, Candy, because you have humidity added to the heat. But those summers you remember from up here are getting worse...this year also included the worst wild fire in history as well.
But enough moaning - I love fall and spring. Fall is so beautiful, colorful and usually wonderfully mild. Next to New England, I think the Northwest is the prettiest place in the fall.
As to September in New Orleans: I wish you cooler weather, not a whisper of a hurricane, and a very Happy Birthday! (Mine was in August - I know about the getting older thing.)

Helena said...

The first thing I thought after reading this was: why do you live in New Orleans? I thought it was where you'd always lived, but clearly not! And you know from personal experience his lovely summer is in other places. So: why stay there? Genuine enquiry!

Charles Gramlich said...

Growing up in Arkansas, I loved summer but also really enjoyed fall when the weather turned cool and football started. I didn't care much for school but i loved Halloween. October is my birth month so that was probably my favorite. In New Orleans my favorite time of the year is when it gets close to Christmas. Not really for the holiday but for the cooler temps that finally come around.

cs harris said...

Lynne, thank you! I think age is a big part of my problem with summers these days; I can't take the heat any more, either. As if the other effects weren't bad enough....

Helena, I moved here 14 years ago to be take care of my aging mother, who moved down here to be by her family after my dad died. Now she's dead, but I'm married to a man with a job here and a determination not to retire until he absolutely must. In the end, we will probably move to wherever one of my girls settles, but neither is in a place to do that yet--one has a 7 year commitment to the Air Force; the other is finishing her PhD, and it always takes a while to find a permanent place in academics. But both love New Orleans and heat, so I'm probably doomed.

Charles, I find it often cools off the day after Halloween down here, as if the weather gods have been watching the calendar.

Amy said...

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area so the weather is the same all year long and we don't really have seasons. I've been to New Orleans in the Spring and I loved the weather-it was perfect.

Melody said...

Where did you live in Oregon? I moved here from Southern California in 2007 and I have lived in Philomath (near Corvallis /OSU) and have been in Salem for the last four years.

cs harris said...

Amy, my sister lived in the Bay area for years. I remember summers as being a time of fog--I always found it so strange.

Melody, we spent five years in Medford when I was a kid, and my grandparents lived there until they died, so I've spent a lot of time in Oregon.

Melody said...

My grandparents are in Medford :) They've been there for about 14 years now? I tend to go there mostly for Thanksgiving.

Suzanne said...

I am a libra too, but at the other end of it, the end of October. For many years I dreaded September because it meant end of financial year at work, and in a large financial institution that gets very ugly. I used to spend September working very late nights, straight through weekends and under so much pressure I used to come home and cry on a regular basis. Thank God that part of my life is over.

These days I actually look forward to September because in Melbourne it means the beginning of spring. It is in spring and autumn that I really wouldn't want to be anywhere else. It is just beautiful.

cs harris said...

Melody, I must admit it's a while since I was there, so I suspect it has changed a lot.

Suzanne, that's interesting that all those years of dreading September didn't leave an aftereffect.

Anonymous said...

C-I would have to agree with Lynne. although unless i was in the Adirondacks - i never really like the summer as an adult. my body really reacts poorly to heat. meaning it wants to shut down and search out the coolest spot i can find. I'm not really a creature of extremes. my favorite temp range is 58-72. Either side of that makes me cranky. i'm cranky a lot. so when i move from NY to SC i will not be doing myself any favors but family calls me to join them and at some point i will do that. at least they have central AC everyplace!!! Best, Ali

PS - The note below is from Post Sometimes Life Sucks
C- so i go away for a week - and you walk into a tree?? Good God. I hope you are feeling much, much better. And at least Indie has excellent taste. gotta go read your latest entries now! Best Ali

Susan J. said...

I would not know what to say is my favourite month of the year, as here in England we can experience all four seasons in one day! We had some nice warm days in July but ths last few weeks have turned into Autumn, almost Winter! We had to put our gas fire on several evenings it was so chilly, in August! Here in Lincolnshire there is often a sharp wind blowing. So when you are all complaining about the heat, spare a thought for us Brits shivering or wet!

cs harris said...

Ali, it was family that pulled me to New Orleans, too. I'm like you--I have a narrow band of temperatures I consider acceptable; I also can't take cold. When I was younger, heat didn't bother me at all, but I can't take it any more. And yes, thanks, the eyes is doing better, although still not what it should be. Life is dangerous when you're a klutz.

Susan, my mother always says the coldest, most miserable two weeks she ever experiences was in England in July--and she spent two years in Alaska!

paz said...

I love summer, because it has always meant travel for me. I have been in situations where i could traveled at other times of the year, but generally speaking, my vacations are overwhelmingly in summer, so my travel is too. Fall reminds me of the fact that my travels are usually over; spring is exciting because my travels are near!

Lynne said...

Hooray! Ali, you and I can be room-mates! I get cranky, too, and people who don't suffer from the heat don't understand the misery. I also get claustrophobic in the heat...go figure. Actually, I think I'll invite myself to Susan's house...Susan, you don't mind, do you? I'd visit Britain in almost any weather. Gosh, Candy, maybe we could all meet at Susan's! It's cooler there.

Suzanne said...

I don't like the heat either. In fact every summer seems to get harder as I get older. But the hardest summer I have ever spent was in the UK, in 1987. I was there during April and May, and in May it was over 35C for two straight weeks! When it is that hot here you just need to stagger from one air conditioned building to the next, but in London it was sheer misery. I was lucky that I was coming home via Hong Kong so I had some summer clothes with me. But I couldn't buy a cold drink, there was no air-con anywhere and at my hotel the windows didn't even open. I took thermal undies with me and ended up posting them home.

When I remember London I have visions of heaps of semi-clad people flaked out all over Kensington Gardens and children swimming in the fountain in Trafalgar Square. It was only a few days after I left that they had that terrible hurricane, so it was really freaky weather.

Susan J. said...

Candy: I can well imagine your mother's misery in a British summer, you never know what to expect. No wonder we all rush outside to burn our white skins at the first sign of any sun! I saw a documentary about an airport in Florida and the staff said they can spot the white skinned Brits a mile off!
Lynne: What is it you like so much about Britain?
Suzanne: I remember the hot summers we sometimes had in the late seventies and eighties. I got married in 1976, about the hottest summer ever here. I was working on the switchboard at Barkers of Kensington and we were dying in the heat, no air conditioning. As Candy said, it is the humidity that makes things worse. Australians living in Earls Court London at the time, were saying how much worse it was than Australia, as it is a dry heat there. The last few summers have not been great here, particularly now I live near the North. Saying that, the weather seems to have changed back now it's September and the sun's shining! Hope it lasts for a bit.

Lynne said...

Susan: The short answer is I'm a passionate Anglophile. I love the history, the scenery, the people...the history...the people... But I remember the summer of 84 - my only visit there and it was pretty hot in June. I know you have pretty crazy weather but you still live in the most beautiful country I know to where I am, of course. (Suzanne and I have bitched our hearts out about the heat issue...Eastern Washington was miserable for 2 straight months.)

Suzanne said...

Susan, I know what you mean by the British baking themselves. When I go to Asia I am always horrified by seeing them lying in the sun until they are bright red. My fist thought is haven't they ever heard about heat stroke and skin cancer? It is really frightening.

I remember 1976 as well. My grandparents were in the UK and we kept getting postcards telling us how hot it was! Was that the year you had the nasty drought? I was in the UK in 1977. It started off really cold in April, my Dad's jeans froze on the line and when he brought them inside they stood up on their own. We laughed until we were nearly sick! But by July it was really hot. I have a friend who is English and came here when she was about 30. She keeps trying to tell me that people don't swim in the UK but I have trouble believing it because both times I was there it was so hot that there were where crowds of people in every available body of water.

Susan J. said...

Suzanne: I have to say I don't personally rush out to get burnt in the sun. I have pale skin and freckles, probably inherited from my Irish great grandmother, so I slap on the factor 50 and always wear a light scarf to protect the vulnerable chest area. I can't understand the Brits who don't worry about the dangers of the sun. My husband quoted the Noel Coward song 'Mad dogs and Englishmen, go out in the mid day sun!' Have you ever heard of that?
Lynne: I find it strange that people love England, when sometimes I wish I could get out and go live in France or Spain, particularly when we have a Tory government, like now. I do love the history though. I do love things about America, so I suppose it's the same thing in reverse. I love Forties Film Noir and Henry James novels and Edith Wharton novels and Blues and Cajan music, Sam Cooke soul music, I could go on and on.

Lynne said...

Susan: I think we all suffer from "the grass is greener" syndrome. And in truth, all governments are a doesn't matter where you live. (My cousin in Canada gets crazy about theirs..) England isn't as vast as the US but it is beautiful. And the English do respect the past more. You recycle old buildings and we just tear them down. I know that's simplistic...and I do love where I live. But if I have money and a choice, the UK is my first choice. And the things you love about the US are things I like , too. ( We heard some mighty terrific jazz in Nottingham years ago - quite a nice surprise.)

Suzanne said...

I agree with you Lynne. Everybody I know everywhere complains about their governments. But isn't that one of the good things about living in a democracy? If you don't like them you just have to wait a few years and they will be voted out. I have just been talking to Betty on Lauren Willig's website about my experiences touring in Berlin during the cold war, and believe me, there is always somebody worse off than us.

I also go with the grass is greener thing. I love the UK. Somebody asked me recently if I had heaps of money and could live anywhere in the world where would it be? I answered without any hesitation Bath. I have been luck enough to see so many beautiful places in the world but that is my favourite.

Susan, I think Noel Coward is great. Actually I have thought for years that the words should say, mad dogs, Englishmen and my mother. When we went to Penang together twice she always seemed to want to go out for a walk or shopping at midday. Needless to say the streets were deserted because anybody with common sense was indoors with the shutters closed having a siesta.

cs harris said...

Paz, yes, that's another reason to like summer!

Lynne, humidity certainly makes it hard to catch one's breath, which can be claustrophobic.

Suzanne, that's amazing it was so hot, at that time of year, especially!

Susan, I spent 1976 in England. I remember everyone dying--some literally--from the heat. Yet it was STILL chilly when I went to northern Scotland.

cs harris said...

Susan, Lynne, and Suzanne, if given a choice, I'd probably live in Adelaide or England (the southern, warmer parts!), but I'd need my girls nearby.

Susan J. said...

I do love Lincolnshire though, in spite of the weather. The people are lovely, they have the Northern warmness and they call you 'duck' and 'love' with the short vowel sound. If any of you come to England again you should travel North and find out how different it is to the South, so open and friendly and a bit loud really. I would never move South again, I would miss the people here. They even sometimes use words that are Viking in origin, as this was Danelaw territory and places end with 'by' which meant farmstead, also 'thorpe'. Only the other day I heard a woman in a shop say 'sneck' for the modern 'sneak'. It's a bit rough and ready here, not chocolate box pretty like the southern villages, real farming country. I grow tansy in the garden to ward off the flies during 'muck spreading' season, as the farmers call it but it's real country, not a place for bankers to escape at the weekend and pretend to be country people.

Lynne said...

Okay, here's what we do...Candy, you organize a tour to London for all of us and we'll see all the places Sebastian and Hero might have gone. Then we hit the A1 north with a short detour to Cambridge - my personal favorite. Then back to the motorway and head up to Lincolnshire to see Susan's part of the country. Think how much fun we'd have. Susan, you'd have to select some high points but I'm sure you're able. I've been as far northwest as Manchester but never into the northeast.
Okay...this is just a pipe dream but I think it really would be fun to get together with each of you guys. We all seem to like the same things - England and Candy's books!
And Susan, I love your description of your area.

cs harris said...

Susan, sounds lovely. I haven't been to Lincolnshire since 1976. The last 30 years, most of my time in England has been spent in the Durham-Newcastle-Sunderland area, home of my stepdaughter, who is English.

Lynne, that does sound like fun!

Susan J. said...

Candy: I have never been to the Newcastle area but I know the people are very open and friendly, I've known several nice Geordies. Durham Cathedral looks beautiful in films I've seen of it. Were you once married to an Englishman, as you have an English stepdaughter?
Lynne: I lived in Cambridgshire for some time, in Peterborough, not a great place, except for the Cathedral, but Cambridge is lovely, I agree.

cs harris said...

Susan, my previous husband is Australian, but his first wife was English. And yes, Durham is lovely.

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