summer

Denver Summer

Before the summer, there is the spring, which can sometimes feel like dating a jerk. Even if the weather or the jerk doesn’t realize it, they’re playing games, getting your hopes up with warm days and flirtatious text messages. But wearing skimpy clothes will not make it warmer or guarantee a call the next day.

During an unseasonably warm week in early March, when every day after work I rode my bike past people drinking outside in sunglasses, I thought spring was ready to commit to summer. That Sunday, I went to Cheesman Park with plans to idle, but spent most of the day waiting for the sun to break through the clouds. It was the first day of Daylight Savings, and my heart was broken. What was the use of long days if the nights were still cold?

Then in April, spring bought me some perfume: Water Drying on Cement. I wish there were more adjectives for smells, but Water Drying on Cement has some of the earthiness of a dog’s paw, but none of the musk. The evaporating water adds a lightness to the smell, like the beach without the salty overtones.

I’ve been through enough springs that I won’t believe its promise of summer until the first time I can wear a t-shirt at night. There’s something about the feeling of dark air against bare arms that makes me feel like everything will be ok. Or at least that I won’t have to worry about layers for a long time. But in Denver, to paraphrase P. Reyner Banham, the heat has a kinship to the light. The air here is so dry that the temperature drops about 15 degrees when the sun goes down. I was afraid that the feeling of walking through warm nights on lit streets would never come. But then the other evening, I went to Wal-Greens in a t-shirt. There may be some disagreements—colder days and rain—but I believe in Denver summer now. And I’m excited.

It's All Downhill From Here

Tonight is the summer solstice, which means starting tomorrow, there will be less light in the evening. It’s too bad that the retreat from sunlight occurs so early in the summer, but whoever is in charge of weather and daylight isn’t taking suggestions. 

Incidentally, the days of the summer solstice and the winter equinox are the only two facts my father remembers from high school Earth Science. This day, and this weather, reminds me of him. When I was little, my family used to ride our bikes around the neighborhood after dinner on summer nights. My dad had a red road bike, and he was able to cruise across the quiet streets of New Rochelle without any hands. 

But you don’t need to be sentimental to enjoy the feeling of riding with open arms down a sunlit street on a cool summer night. That’s just a pleasant feeling. And a feeling, starting tomorrow, there will be less time for.