Sun’s comin’ up

Perhaps the first signal is the change in the color of the grass, moving from the emerald green of spring into that toasty brown. The pollen bombs lessen as the leaves form a canopy over the city. And then those particles of dust begin to lie on the windshield.

But the first actual blast of summer reality is the always-alarming Stage 1 power alert! (At least there’s no confusing color scheme to it.) The first electricity emergency came last week and was a sure sign that the summer sun was upon us. Forget the calendar and that summer-equinox stuff, the alert is the real sign that the season is changing.

Last week, the alert was called when the state was within 7 percent of running out of electricity. This was one day after state energy officials said we had adequate supplies. Perhaps the extended run of sun and heat in late May had put them into pre-summer doldrums. Perchance the summer gaming has begun.

You remember the energy crisis: rolling brownouts, tangled media explanations of free-market gaming, the absence of decisive action by Governor Perfect Hair.

But my least favorite aspect is the surprise power outage that can sweep through sections of the Sacramento area, as it did last Wednesday because of some overworked transformer.

It’s really fun in Midtown when rush-hour traffic signals suddenly go dark, and all-out anarchy hits the intersections. Those drivers looking for any excuse to resort to the law of the jungle ignore common courtesy and zoom across without allowing those on their right first access. Shouldn’t our experience with power outages have helped this situation? In an emergency, we have to learn to get along.

So, now SMUD and other energy sources are worrying about us getting too cozy with our air conditioners and forgetting what we went through two years ago. It’s time to be scared again and start turning off lights like our parents taught us to do.

But, lest we forget that summer is supposed to be fun and survivable, let us present our summer survival guide.