Letter From the Editor

Small Home Gazette, Summer 2011

Letter From the Editor: the summer heat

Man with a fan.I hate summer.

Well, maybe “hate” is too strong a word. Let’s just say it’s my least favorite season, an opinion that was firmly reinforced by July’s vicious heat wave.

How do I dislike summer?  Let me count the ways.  I’m fair-skinned, and in the summer sun I go from pasty white to blistered in 20 minutes flat.  I despise getting out of the shower only to break a sweat before I finish toweling off.  And if I hear one more blast of thumping bass from the open windows of a passing car, I fear I may add a statistic to the traditional summer spike in street crime.

I know, lots of people love the summer heat and endure Minnesota winters only by dreaming of hot, humid days like the one you may be experiencing as you read this.  Other, more sensible people just take summer in stride, understanding that it’s part of Minnesota’s glorious theater of seasons.  Me?  I’ll take one of the other three seasons—yes, even winter—any day.

In recent years, though, I’ve tried to be more mature about the whole thing and actively seek out aspects of summer to appreciate.  A cold beer is a definite plus, and ice cream, salads and other fresh foods are a treat.  Enjoying any of these while seated at a café patio or sidewalk table magnifies the pleasure.  And I admit it: a dip in a pool or lake on a hot day is a delight.

Believe it or not, another of my favorite summer things is window screens.  Lowly and functional, screens filter some of the harshest aspects of summer while permitting some of the nicest.  I am buoyed by watching a mosquito bounce along the exterior surface of a screen, sensing my presence inside but unable to reach me, or my blood.  And if you’re looking out through a screen, it means you’re in the shade, which is another great thing about summer.

I recall sitting in my bungalow’s breakfast nook in June, the window curtains billowing as a crisp breeze flowed across the tabletop.  But because my bungalow is fitted with central air conditioning, I give in to temptation easily—my windows are generally closed through July and August.

But screens are everywhere during Minnesota summers.  My partner and I were recently guests at a barbecue in the backyard of a charming bungalow in the Longfellow neighborhood.  We dined in a cozy screened gazebo and talked late into the evening, enjoying views of the subtly lit garden all around us.

And we spent one particularly hot and humid weekend at a northern Minnesota cabin.  Built in 1935, it’s full of multi-paned casement windows that swing wide, exposing broad expanses of bronze screen.  Saturday morning we all lounged in the sultry heat, trying to move as little as possible—the humidity was so thick it felt difficult to breathe.  Then, in mid-afternoon, a breeze picked up and brought fresh, cool air across the lake’s surface and through the screens.  The sheer sensuality of it all was enough to make one weep.

No doubt that I’ll remember that moment next January, when I’m wishing it was any season other than winter.