One thing I missed when living by the ocean in Northern California was warm nights. No matter how hot it was during the day, it would drop at least 20F at night. This was wonderful in that I could cool off my apartment, and sleep under a comforter most nights of the year. It also required a large wardrobe of summer jackets. No matter how skimpy and comfy my summer sundress, I would need to bundle up after the sun set. At barbecues we would end up indoors in the warmth, at bonfires we would be huddling by the fire; this did not feel like summer to me. I missed the summers of my youth in Toronto, where you would step out of doors at night and be enveloped by a thick heat, fragrant with the scent of night blooms.
Tonight I went to the gym for my strength training class. Now that I’m running again, I’m still committed to keeping up my cross-training and leg strength, and so an off night has turned into a difficult gym workout. I hope this is sustainable. After class I rode the elevator up to the roof-deck to take some photos, stepped out, and was hit with the warmth of a true East Coast summer night (it had to be at least 80F!). Even in my work-out shorts and tank, with my hair damp with sweat, I was warm. After taking my photos I lay on one of the deck chairs, closed my eyes, and was immediately transported to my old garden in Toronto. This was a city garden, with stones and concrete instead of grass, but large enough for two lawn chairs, an outdoor table and chairs where we would eat every meal the weather permitted, and a koi pond. On summer evenings I would lie there, often with my Dad who, like me, liked to spend every allowable moment outdoors, listening to the sounds of the city. Lying in tonight’s warm air, I was transported back to these warm summer nights of my childhood.
One night a skunk (they are apparently almost blind) wandered under our chairs. When my Dad pointed him out, the skunk, suddenly aware he was not alone, ran to hide in the flower bed. Once there he relaxed, confident he was well hidden, while his bushy black and white tail stuck prominently out of the petunias. Another night a helicopter circled overhead shining down a spotlight, its circuit tightening more and more towards our location, till my Dad and I cast each other a look and raced into the house locking the door. My cat would come outside with us those nights, and would take off on adventures, never appearing when we wanted her to return. We would call, and call, and finally give up, and just as we would take the keys out to lock the door she would come racing around the corner into the house.
Of course tonight was different: the scent was a little higher on the fumes, with no garden aromas to balance this out; the sounds were more urban, the traffic noises higher, with a distinct lack of koi-pond waterfall in the background. But, it was nice to not only pretend for a little while that I was back in the garden of my childhood home, but that it was a true summer night. One of these things will live on only in my imagination, but the other I look forward to arriving soon.