Sunday, October 23

OF COOL MORNINGS AND STRONG COFFEE AND THE HOUSTON ASTROS

I brewed the fresh-ground coffee extra strong this morning, because it's below 50 degrees F. in our neck of the woods north of Houston and, while I'm indoors pecking away at the keyboard in my two-index-fingers, Walter Winchell-style (that name will throw a curve at you youngsters) that may seem atavistic to the high school typing class talents of the world, I'm luxuriating in the knowledge that the A/C isn't running, the windows are not steamed up from sweltering humidity, and the squirrels aren't panting breathlessly in the near death-grip of an African summer. As a Californian might say, this is just all "too-cool." Indeed, I suspect in another month or two we may even have to put a lightweight blanket on the bed.

Oh, what a delightful morning it is! Fall is here. Fall is in the air. And going outdoors is like biting into a crisp Washington State apple. Goodness, the high tomorrow may not even reach into the 70s! This is all the Fall Classic I need. If it's a choice between this kind of weather or the Astros winning the Series, I'll opt for the cold front and ask Houston's baseball prodigies to do it all again next year. Chicago can chase our bearded wonders, but Mother Nature had better not chase the San Diego-like weather from our midst. This is better than ice cream on a stick.

Did you watch the World Series opener in Chicago last night? My wife and I sat riveted in front of the T.V. in the late innings, not cheering so much for an Astros' comeback, as we were delighting in those close-ups of the players exhaling a palpable vapor in the chill air of the Windy City. If you live down here in the tropics, closer to the equator than Harriet Miers is to the president, you just don't see that sort of thing unless you watch late night reruns of "Ice Station Zebra." That's why Texas didn't go for Kerry, by the way -- we don't see fashionable wet suits on the rack either. The Gulf of Mexico is bathtub warm -- just ask Wilma -- and nobody here owns a coat or a wool scarf or mittens (or has hot cocoa in the pantry).

And contrary to popular notion, oil is not what made Houston. Block ice, air-conditioning, and iced-tea did.