Archive for Thursday, September 3, 2009

Enjoy cool summer days while they last

September 3, 2009

I don’t know what to make of this weather.

I’m not complaining, mind you. It’s a welcome change to have it feel good to sit in the sun in August (all right, I know it’s September already). Usually at this time of year we’re sitting around with our tongues hanging out, desperate for any scrap of shade, almost fighting to draw a breath.

My brother-in-law stopped by the house the other day on his way back from a trip to western Kansas. The fields and ditches along the roads out that way are lush and green, he said – more like April or May.

And a friend who has an asphalt business told me last week that the weather has played havoc with his plans – although he did report one interesting anomaly. One of his jobs has something to do with landscaping the new Overland Park soccer fields, and he reported, sounding somewhat amazed, that his crews were actually laying sod there. That’s something seldom done in August, when it’s usually impossible to get and keep the new grass wet enough. Six inches of rain in one week obviously makes a difference.

It’s been pretty quiet at the swimming pools this summer. Shawnee’s Thomas A. Soetaert Aquatic Center didn’t even open Friday or Sunday because it was too cold to swim. Sean Keenan, the recreation specialist who oversees the city’s aquatic programs, said pool attendance was off about 10 percent as of this week. Revenue is up a little, he said, due to increased sales of memberships and a price increase that went into effect this year to cope with increased labor costs occasioned by an increase in the minimum wage. (Ironically the decision to close the new Splash Cove pool once school started had nothing to do with the weather. Officials had planned that change because they saw in previous years that attendance there fell off after classes began, and it was more difficult to staff two pools because most staff members also went back to school.)

Remember what the schools used to be like in August? Today, most school buildings are air-conditioned, of course, but the air conditioners aren’t working nearly as hard. And even if the buildings are air-conditioned, the practice fields are not. Football practices have been a lot more comfortable if no less strenuous.

Some things do balance out, I guess. If city recreation departments have to cope with less attendance at their swimming pools, at least the schools should get a break on their energy bills for August. So, for that matter, should we all.

With all this rain, at least, we should have a good shot at a colorful fall. Several things have still to fall into place for this to happen, but at least the trees should have good stores of water as the days continue to shorten.

What we’ll need, as we move through September into October, will be warm days and cool nights. Just hope it doesn’t get too cold too quick, or that will kill the leaves before they have a chance to put on their fall display.

I’m really not a pessimist by nature, but I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. Are we going to have an Indian summer? What’s this winter going to be like? Like Alice cried after she fell down that rabbit hole, life just gets curiouser and curiouser.

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