Amblin’ Alameda: How I Know it’s Summer

Amblin’ Alameda: How I Know it’s Summer

Morton Chalfy

Summer has arrived early this year. Maybe it’s because of climate change, maybe just a “natural” fluctuation of wind and wave. Maybe summer just decided it had enough of sitting in the dark and decided to come out to play. Whatever the reason, it is here and I can tell by its major signs: chilly weather, low clouds obscuring the sun, and fog that rolls in through the Golden Gate and fills the streets and alleys with its bracing temperatures.

Bracing - that’s a word the British use to indicate “wear at least two outer layers of clothing.” Good advice during Bay Area summers.

This will be my fourth Alameda summer and I’ve grown to love them. The fog in the morning makes me pick up the pace of my morning walk and stride along briskly, raising my heartbeat, inducing my sweat glands to get to work and pushing my lungs to get with the program. This makes me and my doctors happy. The other walkers are also reacting to the weather. Half are bundled up against it and the other half are dressed for the idea of summer, T-shirts and sometimes shorts, rather than the reality of fog and chill. These people are the precursors to the Polar Bear Club members who dive into ice-choked lakes. One can only presume their thermostats are set differently and not that they are mentally deranged.

I fall between the two camps, it seems. I neither hunch my shoulders under several layers of clothing, nor bare my skin to the winds. A sensible sweatshirt usually handles the chore of keeping me warm enough as long as I walk quickly enough. It keeps me on the right side of comfortable, though barely, and assures that I don’t dilly dally while making my rounds.

The other sure sign of summer can only be seen in its full glory on a TV weather broadcast - the 20- to 30-degree difference between the coastal communities and the inland valleys. While San Francisco and Alameda enjoy the benefits of natural air conditioning, the inland valleys warm up early and bake into oven-like heat by midday.

Another, minor, sign of the season is the cognitive dissonance between years of experience defining summer as hot and getting hotter, and the reality of the cool, cool, cool of the evening and the morning of summers by the Bay.

We can all stand a little cognitive dissonance in our lives to keep us on our mental toes.

Hail to Summer in her flimsy dress and wool scarf.