Summer sucks!

In Sacramento, ’tis the season to be endured, not enjoyed

Photo By Larry Dalton

Ah, summer. Lazy, carefree days, lounging by the pool, reading under an umbrella on the beach, rafting down the Sacramento River, biking on the American River trail. Summer equals bliss—at least that’s what the summer enthusiasts espouse.

And that’s exactly the type of gushing we-love-summer-in-Sacramento tripe you’ll see in this, the Seventh Annual Summer Guide. But what would the alternative press be without an alternative viewpoint?

Hence the following rant, which my colleagues have dubbed “Amy’s summer sucks essay.”

There are a number of fallacies and serious sins of omission that should be noted in the summer enthusiasts’ wholesale whitewash that summer in Sacramento is one three-month groovathon.

First, with the exception of students, teachers and senior citizens, there’s nothing about summer that is any more or less carefree than any other time of the year. The majority of us working stiffs get no three-month break from responsibilities.

This love of summer that everyone professes is, quite frankly, one heckuva sales job. Let’s see a show of hands—come on now, no one’s watching you: How many of you moved here because of a job and stayed because you liked the people, the urban scene, the fact that you could buy a home without waiting for an inheritance to come through? That’s what I thought.

The heat thing—well, you’ve simply tried to make the best of it, haven’t you? Many of you heartier souls go to great lengths to put a positive spin on things, citing many of the “recreational” activities close at hand.

Love playing golf? Great! Make sure you get up before dawn so you can hit the links by 6 a.m. and finish by 10 so you can reduce your risk of developing melanoma. Hiking? You bet! Bring plenty of filtered water and some dried figs and hike into some remote wilderness. Sure, it’s hot and other trailblazers generally discourage nude hiking, but you’ve got that straw hat! (Don’t forget your pesticide-free bug repellent and your “Guide to Poisonous Plants and Disgusting Insects” so you can accurately tell the emergency room doctor what ails you.)

And how about that rafting? Man, that water looks inviting … just make sure you don’t get in that inflatable craft with someone who thinks he’s Whitewater Dan when, in fact, his closest brush with rapids came during a trip to Yosemite where he stood real close to the railing.

My biggest adventure during the summer months lies in testing my skills at securing a parking spot closest to my air-conditioned location of choice. I’ll circle for 30 minutes if I think there’s the slightest chance of a spot within 90 seconds of where I’m headed.

Something happens to people’s brains when the temperature spikes into the triple digits. They say idiotic things like, “You want ice in that?” and, on yet another 105-degree day, take to reminding one another that “at least it’s a dry heat.” At a certain point, wet or dry, hot is hot, folks.

There is one saving grace for those of us cursed to call Sacramento home during the summer months. That mantra is, of course, “Delta breeze.” It becomes a time for celebration when Mark Finan tells us at 11 p.m. that—please God, let it be true—tomorrow night’s temperature will be tempered by Delta breezes. And when it comes, well, we get downright delirious, don’t we?

At 10 p.m., as if on cue, we head out to our decks, patios or fire escapes and bask in the godsend that has dropped the temperature from 94 degrees at 8 p.m. to a mere 85. It’s all we can talk about the next day at work, isn’t it?

“Martha, wasn’t it lovely last night?” Jim asks. “I finally got our lawn mowed!”

And then there’s one of summer’s most treasured events: the late-afternoon barbecue. We Sacramentans love our smoked meat. I seem to get invited to ’cues hosted by folks who have no outdoor canopy, or one umbrella that is permanently tilted to one side and is only big enough to provide shade to two small animals, and a couple of votive citronella candles. What are they thinking?

“Honey, I’m bored.”

“I know!” says the male of the species. “Let’s capitalize on this 100-degree weather and cook over an open fire! And, let’s invite others to join us.”

Or, perhaps more accurately, the exchange goes like this: “It sure is hot outside. Let’s invite the neighbors over so we have someone to share in our misery. We can cook over an open fire and make salads with mayonnaise … ”

For those of us whose idea of communing with nature is a B&B with an ocean-view terrace, well, life in Sacramento during the summer months holds little joie de vivre.

It’s no secret which businesses make the most money during the summer months. That’s right—your local multiplex. I view movies during this timeframe as much as an investment in my sanity as they are entertainment.

When May hits, I buy theater tickets in bulk—my version of a season’s pass to an area amusement park. In fact, I like to think of movies as the adult version of Waterworld—and by adult I mean not having to deal with urine-infected water, floating Band-Aids and enough pooling water on concrete to make for a fine athlete’s foot commercial. There are days when I literally don’t care what’s playing, as long as I realize the promise of a dark, air-conditioned room for two hours.

Come on now, I see you nodding your heads in agreement. You know summer in Sacramento sucks. Wear your annoyance proudly. Hell—iced coffee, air conditioning and the knowledge that everyone else is as miserable as I am are about the only things that make Sacramento’s heat bearable.

That, and those Delta breezes.