Saturday, October 8


While I'm not from California originally, I spent the better part of my youth and a good-size chunk of my adult life there and I always relished the dry air and, above all, the cool southern California nights. No matter how warm through the day it became, you could always open up your windows at night and sleep soundly, cradled in the luxurious arms of lovely ocean air. Nights there were just "too cool."

But my two stints in the Lonestar State, first in Dallas and now down here just north of Houston, have been the antithesis of the California experience. Here and in Dallas, and most everywhere in Texas, the air conditioners come on no later than mid-May and they're not turned off again -- even in the evenings -- until some time in October. Meanwhile it's hot, Hot, HOT, and the blazing temperatures are compounded by sticky, oftentimes insufferable humidity -- a stifling kind of moist, sauna-like heat that makes you feel as though you've been permanently insinuated in a Tennesse Williams play without benefit of ceiling fans.

Indeed, Houston's climate is conducive only to insects the size of UPS trucks and sunbathing lizards in need of CPR. Until the advent of air-conditioning, it's unthinkable that human beings ever set foot in bayou country or deigned to shed cardigans for cotton T-shirts. A few intrepid souls may have attempted to endure African summers here, but no doubt found that handheld fans only wore out their wrists and, if made of plastic, melted in resinous globs. Even ice cubes bristle at being removed from freezer compartments here, their lives more short-lived than pesky gnats.

So a morning like this morning is a gift from above and just fetching the newspaper is akin to winning the lottery. Why? Because it's only 60 degrees outside presently and it's as if one has awakened in a pristine meadow deep in the Canadian Rockies. Oh, it's not quite cool enough for a mug of steaming hot chocolate just yet (and may never be), but there damn sure won't be the need for a Biggie-size iced tea served with the scrambled eggs this morning!

This morning's edition of the "Houston Chronicle" (registration required) captures the sigh of relief being felt in these parts after a record-setting heat wave that made the month of September absolutely miserable.

As Lana Berkowitz writes:

The cooler weather — predicted to last through the weekend — made us frisky Friday. We couldn't stay on-task.

We lingered on the deck with a cup of coffee, took the dog for a longer walk and dug through the closet for a bulky cardigan.

After the hottest September on record — an average 85 degrees, determined by averaging each day's high and low — Friday's high of 76 degrees was cause for celebration.

September was loaded with days that flirted with 100-degree marks, according to the National Weather Service. Coupled with steady high humidity, well, it just felt like summer might never leave.

Even Thursday was a two-shirt day, the high reaching 92 degrees.

But Friday was a different story. It felt like fall — or as much as a Texas fall can be.

"Fall." Now isn't that a nice word given the fact that summer is a two-season event here in southeastern Texas and electric bills are the equal of house payments! "Fall." Maybe I will have that mug of hot chocolate after all.