The end of summer in San Francisco is a glorious, unnerving wake-up call.
On one of the handful of days when it hits in the 80s the cord of wood and the presto logs you laid in for July look odd in your living room. The ski jacket you keep in the back seat of the car strikes you as absurd.
You almost forget that for the 4th of July your children wear mittens to hold sparklers, the little sticks burning in the fog as if in a blizzard; that every summer you long for a Christmas in July Block Party because the fog is so white and cold someone should be giving gifts. The thought of us stumbling through the whiteness in red caps with mistletoe and eggnog in July, barely able to recognize one another from four feet away, delights me.
At the end of summer, the sun shines on the entire city, not just the privileged Mission. And when it’s really hot -- 92 the other day -- neighbors of more than decade fling up portico windows you didn’t know could open; you see the color of their drapes for the first time as they blow in a breeze.
Do I dare wear a…sundress? Dare I kick the down comforter to the end of the bed (though surely not into the closet, silly you.) Ice tea tastes wonderful again and everyone attacks the ice cube tray for drinks other than cocktails.
The dog pants and saliva drips off his tongue, reminding me to be thankful for once that I don’t have fur.
A man hawks strawberries on the street corner, improbably red and luscious, product of elsewhere’s sunshine.
So it’s out to the beach, maybe barefoot, the dripping sweat reminding me that I have a cleavage and oh yes, a river between my shoulder blades as well. Glorious end of summer! Then up over the Portola hill toward the dog run park, the bright blue ski against the white stucco houses with red tile roofs that cling to hills like the Italian coast.
And then there it is, San Franciso’s reminder to never assume, to be thankful every moment: in this neighborhood, fog so thick you can’t see the end of the parking lot. Dogs running by in fog-bound silhouette like the English moor, stateside rendition of hounds of Baskerville. The Central Valley heat that has made the strawberries is sucking in the fog so we get a bit of heat today and then we sacrifice ourselves for the betterment of avocados and berries; we will crawl under our thermal blankets tonight for the sake of broccoli and artichokes.
The chill shocks you once again and you happily reach for the ski jacket to cover your sundress. Glorious city, mercurial summer.
Causes Jess Wells Supports
Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, Friends of the Urban Forest, The Heifer Project, Forests Forever, NRDC