As I sit on my balcony in the warm evening sunshine, the harsh cries of blue jays and the electric buzzing of cicadas tells me it’s late summer. Last week with its temperatures in the 90s and all the humidity was clearly high summer. And yet everyone seems to want to rush on to autumn: breweries are already promoting their Octoberfests and pumpkin ales, and, should you walk into CVS, you will be greeted by displays of Halloween candy.
This summer started with thunder storms and rain, and proceeded with punishing humidity. (See my earlier summer post about this). But lately there has been some wonderfully stable summer weather with high temperatures, low humidity and Atlantic breezes. We made it to the beach and grilled nearly every weekend on our roof.
The storms and humid it meant that DC stayed really green this summer. Tropical plants in the planters we have on nearly every sidewalk downtown did really well.
(I think those are olive trees on the right)
And we’ve had loads of this really beautiful flowering tree all summer:
(Possibly lilac? But in lots of amazing colours – see those just peeping up from below the hill on the right?)
And see how well sunflowers have done this year!
Ok, I’ll grant that some trees are giving up the struggle and are losing their leaves.
(Not turning – more singed by the sun)
I think this is what brings the blue jays to the tree across from us – they seem to like slightly barer trees…
Let’s not celebrate the dying of the old year just yet.
Let’s enjoy the our late summer – at least until Labour Day!
Last summer we were completely spoiled and found the summer far more bearable than we’d been led to believe. Normal service resumed this year though and I feel like we’re living in the tropics. For the whole of June and much of July we had tropical storms disrupting our lives – and they’re not over yet. First the humidity builds until it feels like you’re walking into a steam room every time you walk out of the air-conditioning. Then comes the monsoon-style rain, unpredictable and soaking you to the skin. And finally, the storm to partially clear things up, until the next one starts to build.
The humidity has been hard to deal with, especially if, like us, you don’t like air-conditioning (it really sets off my allergies). But even we have had to close the windows and switch on the cool, dry air, just to be able to sleep at night. Nothing dries without the air conditioning – our bed clothes seem always to be slightly damp, and the laundry builds up. Walking anywhere is a draining activity. We go through many sets of clothes each day. In the same way that Mediterranean men wear old fashioned vests under their clothes, American men wear white t-shirts under their shirts in the summer to avoid their shirts getting too covered in sweat. (White t-shirts worn as outer-wear are therefore somewhat disapproved of, as they are associated with underwear.)
But the unpredictability of the weather can also really get you down. We had such plans for the summer, based on our experiences last year. We were going to go on more hikes, go canoeing more regularly, and finally use the tennis courts on 18th street. We are doing some of this, but it’s difficult to commit to any kind of regularity when at any moment it might rain.
Still, we adapt. While in the winter I used the buses to avoid the snow and rain, I now use them to avoid walking in the heat and ruining my outfits. We continue to use the gym for regular workouts and see anything we do outside as a bonus. Rather than cooking and increasing the heat in our apartment we mainly just throw together salads or make very quick pastas and frittatas/quesadillas.
And when we finally get a good weekend with low humidity, we make the most of it! This last weekend was just such a gift, and we walked, sat out on our balcony and grilled with friends on our roof at sunset. Weekends like this make all the rest of it worthwhile.