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    Summer in the City

    Photo By Christopher Turner

    By Dr. Tim Seelig–

    Are bears lazy? Is Dore an Alley? Is August freezing?

    Summer in the city.

    Everyone talks about the weather. Most people actually complain about the weather—all the time. They are like the first two bears in the childhood story. “This weather is too hot.” “This weather is too cold.” Very few people consistently say, “This weather is just right!” (unless you live in San Diego where they fired all the meteorologists because there is actually no weather to report. They just filmed one of them saying, “The weather is perfect,” and they run it each day.)

    But the weather is what it is. We can’t do anything about it. Maybe that’s why we complain so much. It just irks that little control freak inside that we are powerless over Mama Nature.

    Weather affects our mood, if we let it. But summer is a time when our schedules, while they may not change, just seem to relax a bit. Perhaps it’s left-over school days when we counted the days until summer arrived and frolicked in the sun for 3 months! Ah, those were the days.

    That timeless Gershwin song says, “Summertime and the livin’ is easy.” In this fair city of ours, it is easy and there is an electric energy in the air from a large percentage of the 25 million tourists who visit annually. They come seeking that “California dream” seen on every postcard and travel ad. Beaches. Beach Boys. Surf Boards. Fun in the sun. Not pictured or mentioned: hoodie sales skyrocket.

    Summer in San Francisco is a delightful place to be. And, it’s deliciously chilly. No, Mark Twain did not say, “The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco.” He could have, since he spent most of his time in Missouri, Mississippi, Nevada and Angels Camp, CA—all places where summer is a scorcher.

    It’s funny that people in San Francisco try to “get away” to the warmth during the summer while the whole world is heading this direction hoping to find the same. I’ve accidentally done the same thing this summer with four very short trips. Three of the four were 100+ temps. One was a refreshing 97 for the high.

    1. I began my heat-seeking jaunts visiting family in Dallas. The average temperature was a balmy 106. Dallas sometimes has over 100 days over 100. Plus, they have that humidity thing. After returning home, I just couldn’t help calling back to my son that I had just taken the space heater out of the closet and turned on the electric fireplace for ambience.

    2. Next, Dan and I chose a quick weekend trip to Las Vegas in July for his birthday. What were we thinking? It was 112 degrees. I was sweatin’ like a whore in church. But it’s a dry heat—like Palm Springs. Whatever. It’s hotter than a blister bug in a pepper patch. It just meant we spent way more time inside at the nickel slots. We did see O, which cooled us down for 80 minutes.

    3. Chris, my work husband, and I took a quick business trip down to beautiful Los Angeles. They were enjoying a record-setting hot spell of around 114 degrees. You could fry an organic, cage and antibiotic free egg on the hood of your car. It’s L.A. after all. Egg Beaters just won’t fry up pretty on your car.

    4. My final trip was to Albuquerque on a book tour and guest conducting gig. It was only in the upper 90’s. I am going to be much more careful about my travel in future summers. Sure makes me happy to be home, though.

    The first time I experienced the chilly summer was back in 2005. I was here on business from Dallas. In typical Dallas (Dallitude) style, I brought a pair of starched khaki shorts and a polo shirt. I arrived in the Castro just as the wind brought the fickle fingers of fog rolling over Twin Peaks, right through the legs of Sutro Tower and swooping down Market to Castro. I was freezing—standing there looking like the tourist I was. “That’s OK,” I thought. “I’m in the Castro where one can buy anything you need.” Except size 38 or larger long pants. Nope. Not a single pair for the sturdy boy from Big D. I purchased my first hoodie.

    Let’s face it. We really don’t have seasons. At least not the way that our friends in other places do. It’s cold here. That’s all there is to it. And, if you don’t like it, you can bop up to Sacramento or over to Livermore. You’ll be counting the minutes until you can get back here and watch the temperature drop 40 degrees.

    Summer is busy. There is no way to list everything there is to do. It really kicks off in June with AIDS Life Cycle (for Dan, the rider, and me, the ALC widow). Then there is Pride, when a million BFF’s show up to celebrate with us. Then there are the street fairs and Off the Grid. Golden Gate Park is “busting out all over.” There are pianos scattered through the Arboretum, flagging at the National AIDS Memorial Grove and a beautiful carousel. There are shorter lines at restaurants during the first week of August when most of the bears head to Guerneville. Bundle up in those woods.

    This year, the SF Marathon and Dore Alley happened on the same day. Talk about traffic gridlock. Someone asked if we were going to “do” the marathon. That was funny. But, we actually did. We decided to support those who actually run. We were up before 5 am and passed out, oh, 20,000 cups of electrolytes and water! After almost seven hours of standing on the concrete, we were just too pooped for Dore Alley. I’m sure we were missed.

    Let me also say that summer in San Francisco is heaven for a 7-year-old. Clara has bopped around from one week-long camp to the next. First it was SPCA summer camp with lots of pet lovin’. Then there was Splash, a camp that takes the kids to a different water theme park every day! (outside San Francisco, of course). Then Horse Riding camp and Angel Island camp, where she took a ferry to Angel Island every day for a week. That is not the way my summers went in Texas. Ropin’ and Ridin’ and Sweatin’. And lots of Bible.

    In the end, we are so very lucky here in San Francisco. I can absolutely tell you that the cold weather is made up for by the warm hearts in this beautiful city of ours. Of course, we have our challenges. But at the end of the day, weather is really not one of them. With an average yearly temperature of around 65 degrees, who can complain? Not this one. I’m hanging with Bear #3. This weather is just right.

    Just one word of advice that all of the locals know. Layer.

    PS. We’re ending the summer season by participating in a Work Day at the National AIDS Memorial Grove. We’ll be doing the initial clearing for the new memorial dedicated to the almost 300 singers the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus has lost, as well as all artists from around the world. Stay tuned for much, much more on this monumental effort. Or get a sneak peek: www.sfgmc.org/namg

    Dr. Tim Seelig is the Artistic Director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.