Dear summer heat,
Summer in Berkeley feels very different from summer in the Central Valley. On Berkeley summer mornings, the sun gently rises, and you can see the cool morning mist trickle down from the mountains behind campus. A small chill in the air makes you want to curl up on the sofa and enjoy the morning. In the Central Valley, mornings are abrupt and loud, the heat wraps around your body like a blanket, and the air is hot. The valley mornings make you want to fall back asleep in a pool of ice and float away. Being away from the valley for the first summer in 15 years has me thinking about what I miss about the summer heat. But here’s the catch — I don’t really miss too much about it.
I do not miss the way you can see the heat come off the street in waves or how it leaves your hair hot to the touch. I do not miss how the sun turns the baseball fields so hot that it burns your cleated feet. I do not miss the sunburns, nor the way you can smell the heat on your clothes after a day outside. I do not miss the way the sun turns a park slide into a great enemy. I do not miss the days when I was haunted by the headache of a coming heatstroke or the way the weather makes doing the simplest of things hot and sweaty. No, I do not miss you, summer heat.
Although the Central Valley sun is responsible for many headaches and a future of possible melanoma, there are some things that the heat does make special. Central Valley heat makes lemonade taste better and fruits much sweeter. I miss the laughter of children piling into the pool or running under the sprinklers. I miss the way the summer sun says goodbye in its portrait of oranges and pinks that painted the horizon. I miss the summer nights, with a heat that keeps the grasshoppers chirping and the stars shining. Maybe I do miss parts of you, summer heat.
In truth, regardless of how much I despise the summer heat, I couldn’t live my life without it. I suppose now, as I get older, I find the sun a bit too hot and the cooler mountains a bit more welcoming. No matter how far I go, you will always be a part of me, dear summer heat.