Cooler Still

It’s official. We’re in record-breaking mode. Thursday night’s low set a record. Friday night’s low probably did the same. Hell, today’s high may set a record low. It’s downright chilly out there.

You gotta understand, normally in New Orleans, in August, you feel like you’re underwater, the air is so hot and thick with humidity. Thirsty? Just inhale. When you walk out from an air-conditioned building, it’s like hitting a wall. You almost can’t move for a minute. I love it.

But we turned off the AC units two nights ago and opened all the windows. I hear electricity usage is down 25% across the region.

And this cool weather is not because of Bonnie or Charley. The paper says it’s a “unusually strong high pressure system” which is bring air down from the Plains states. In fact, far from being a result of storms, this system actually steered those storms and made ’em hit Florida.

Still Cooling

What I wrote last night about Bonnie was ignorant. I’m not sure the cool weather we’re experiencing has anything to do with the tropical storm that hit Florida yesterday. I think it’s just a cold front bringing dry air down from the north.

But damn, this weather is weird and beautiful.


I felt like I got something stuck in my eye last night, and I couldn’t get it out. Finally I just went to sleep, even though it especially hurt when with my eyelid closed. When I woke up it was still there. Indeed, it is still bothering me now, but less so. I think I’m just getting used to the pain.

Freaky Cold

It’s freaky cold in New Orleans. Cold? The way the temperature has been dropping I bet we hit the upper 60s tonight. I suppose it has something to do with Tropical Storm Bonnie. We’re on the dry side of the storm here, so the humidity is low. Yes, it’s still August here. It just doesn’t feel like it.

Driving Rain

It started raining this morning shortly after seven o’clock, accompanied by one of the loudest thunderclaps I have ever heard. I dropped Mike off at the Marriott on Canal Street and then drove to work. It was the first time rain has interfered with my morning bike ride in months. I thought I should make a note of it; I’m curious to know just how many times a year this happens. I’d guess about four.

Lazy Hazy Crazy

Over the last few days, I’ve noticed a haze hanging in the air, especially on my morning ride to work. It’s remarkably thick. Yesterday morning, as I squinted from the Jeff Davis overpass at the shrouded skyscrapers beyond the Superdome, I said to myself, “Hazy enough for you?” But I thought it was just regular summer haze.

Wrong. The morning paper says it’s smoke from wildfires in Alaska and Canada and the western states:

Some of the smoke over New Orleans traveled more than 4,500 miles from fires burning to the north of Fairbanks, Alaska, a journey that would take at least 70 hours by car.

I think that’s just plain weird.

Best Time?

Once I asked my dad what his favorite month was.

He thought about it and said, “Probably June.”

I found that I agreed with him. June in Indiana is a beautiful time of year. Late spring, early summer. School’s out, vacation begins. Even if you’re not in school, it’s easy to get a nostalgic whiff of that summertime magic.

Now that I live 800 miles to the south, June comes a little earlier. May in Louisiana equals June in Indiana, more or less.

It’s still a pretty good candidate for the best time of year. After a rainy and suprisingly cold weekend, this week has been sunny and cloudless, cool in the mornings and evenings, getting a little warmer eash day.

Yesterday it was so beautiful that I actually took off for lunch (I usually just work right through) and rode my bike uptown, where I had the best oyster po-boy ever at Frankie and Johnnie’s, washed down with a beer, and picked up a book order from my favorite neighborhood bookstore. It was a very enjoyable ride.

This time of year is also nice if you work in the higher ed biz. Here at the university, faculty get more stressed and depressed as the semester goes on. Don’t ask “How are you doing?” late in the semester unless you want to hear a litany of grief. Then, in early May, finals are over, grades are turned in, and summer vacation has begun. Suddenly all the profs are walking around with smiles on their faces — if you see them at all.

Sweetgum

I’m fascinated by cycles, including the cycle of seasons. Back when I lived in Bloomington, Indiana I watched each spring for the emergence of new leaves, yet I always seemed to miss it. I would notice the buds when they appeared on the bare branches, and I kept my eye on them, and then — suddenly — there would be full-blown leaves on all the trees, turning the city from gray to green overnight. Damn!

Now that I live in New Orleans, this transition isn’t nearly so dramatic. Many trees, such as live oaks, keep their leaves through the winter, a season which is so mild here that it hardly deserves the name. Indeed, the four seasons here seem to be: carnival season, festival season, hurricane season and Christmas. But I digress.

Last year we planted a sweetgum tree in front of our home. Sweetgums lose their leaves in the winter. Over the last week or two I’ve been watching the green buds emerge on the branches, swelling bigger and bigger. Today I think I can finally say that I have seen young new leaves emerging.

Sweetgum Buds

Caught in the act at last.