In Oregon, on a good year, summer would last 12 whole glorious weeks. On a bad year, it lasted more like 8. There would be a couple of weeks of unbearable heat, accompanied by the sheer misery of not having central air conditioning. Mostly, though, it was beautiful, mild, and over long before it wore out its welcome.
When I first moved to Oregon, the short, tepid summers drove me crazy. I hated that the summers only got hot enough for swimming for a couple of weeks, and then every swimming hole everywhere would be packed to the gills. I hated spending 9 months out of the year in sweaters and long pants. When I came back to visit in Texas, I marveled over how tan and naked everyone was. When my Texas friends would start to post pictures on Facebook of them in shorts and tank tops in may when I knew we still had 6 more weeks of rain and cold to go in Portland, I’d feel despondent and despair that winter would never end. Ever year I would make it through fall, through the gravy-laden holidays, through all the Valentine’s Day chocolate without gaining any weight, only to pack on 5 pounds of eating my feelings in the last couple of months (May and June) of Portland’s rainy season.
My first summer back in Texas, I’m experiencing the reverse. I keep wondering, why is it so hot? You can’t even go outside for a walk! When is it going to end? Hasn’t Austin gotten the memo? It’s September! Fall officially starts in 2 weeks. Shouldn’t it be cooling off? When can I start wearing long pants again? Scarves? Cozy oversized cardigans? Boots? When is all this soul-crushing heat going to go away?!
All of this is really strange to me. I mean, I grew up here. For my first 23 summers, this type of heat was all I knew. The long summers never bothered me before and feeling my skin tingle from all the heat and humidity used to be one of my favorite feelings in the whole wide world. Then I spent 5 years crying over the short Oregon summers. Now I can’t hack it. Did Oregon make me soft?
I found myself recently in Bath & Body Works deeply inhaling the scents of their fall candles, desperately trying to imbue a little of that crisp, cool autumn beauty into my sweaty, overheated existence. I kept sticking them in Isla’s face. “Isla, do you smell that? It smells like 60 degrees and piles of freshly fallen leaves!” I’ve taken to scouring Pinterest for pictures of tea cups in little wool cozies and girls wearing bulky scarves. Pictures of little girls just Isla’s age wearing coats with fur around the hoods and cute little dresses over thick tights. I dream about walking down the streets in one of our old Portland neighborhoods and spotting the first red leaves on the trees, fluttering gently in a cool breeze while I’m surrounded by the golden glow of sunset. I keep checking the 10-day forecast hoping that one day soon, a high of 70-something will pop up instead of seeing a bright yellow sun accompanied by temperatures in the 90s day after day after day.
Hurry up, fall! Things are starting to get ugly here. If you don’t come soon, you may find me stroked out in my backyard on a 100-degree day, wearing 10 lbs. of sweaters and scarves, surrounded by melting cinnamon pumpkin candles and clutching a mug of (mostly spilled) hot cocoa in my hands.