Yesterday photog over at Orion’s Cold Fire wrote a piece, “The End of Summer,” in which he noted that 1 September marks a psychological shift in our perceptions of the seasons, and even though summer doesn’t officially end until later in the month—and the unofficial end is Labor Day—we tend to associate September broadly with the coming of autumn.
He also goes on to make a lot of important points about the return of political commentary, which historically wanes in the carefree summer months; the continued flight of the middle classes from lawless urban centers; and the general skepticism most Americans hold towards our institutions, which we can no longer trust. They’re great points and worth considering, but I want to focus on summertime.
Readers may have noted that I have never written a post called “The Joy of Summer” or the like. I’ve certainly celebrated the arrival of summer break, but other than living like a retired person for two months out of the year, summer in the South is a season to be endured, rather than enjoyed.
But August and September are brutal—almost depressingly so. Even us Southerners never really get used to it; we just learn how to endure it as best we can.
Because September is associated with autumnal fun, it’s even more devastating psychologically: we think it should be at least twenty degrees cooler than it is, so we’re shocked when it’s still in the upper nineties with 100% humidity. It will stay like that, most likely, well into the month, and the first day of fall will feel an awful lot like the dog days of summer.
Even having lived in South Carolina my entire life, I still commit this meteorological error. I’m ready to burst out sweaters and cardigans in mid-September, only to find it’s still too hot. Indeed, while the evenings begin to grow cooler by October, it is still often hot and humid on Halloween.
Of course, it’s not all bad. As photog noted, the nights are getting cooler. I’ve even been able to take Murphy out for some walks without being devoured by mosquitos. And while photog will be shoveling snow from his New England driveway by October, I’ll still be wearing Hawaiian shirts and sipping mint juleps (well, Coke Zero, but you get the idea) on my front porch.
So, while I loathe putting on dress pants and a nice shirt—or, really, doing anything—when it’s so hot out, I suppose it has its upsides. It’s hard to do sometimes, but I’m trying to make the most of the warm weather and long (but shortening!) days while I can, before the neverending summer flips to bone-chilling frostiness and sunset at 4:45 PM.