Image courtesy of Loren Kerns. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Atlanta summer weather is unpredictable: the heat knob on the thermostat hover somewhere around the 90 degree range, and the humidity slider somewhere around 70%, but neither is particularly firmly set and sometimes the cat gets in and knocks them around a bit and weird things happen. For example, this year’s July 4th weekend was just a glorious kind of this-is-why-I-live-here set of days, with weather that felt made for sitting on a porch and feeling good about things (like the fact that malaria no longer is a thing here—thanks, mosquitos!). The air was, though not entirely devoid of its water weight, certainly breathable and minimally full of Things That Will Give You Asthma.
I spent most of the weekend days on porches (three different ones!) and most of the evenings drinking whiskey in places with big windows. I purchased (and wore, with abandon) a pair of what are pretty definitely mom shorts. I sat in the shade.
In contrast to that, last week the celestial cat got in and knocked the humidity knob to 11: roundabout lunchtime, the heavens opened up. Summertime in Atlanta contains a fair bit of rain, but most of it is of the 20 minutes and gone variety, a little natural afternoon shower. It’s tedious but not harmful—it takes a few weeks of that weather for us to even begin to worry that the ground has been made soft enough that the trees will start falling out, again.
This rain was not that. This was the sort of shit that people used to write end-of-the-world poems about. In Atlanta, it’s the sort of shit that causes you to remember that Atlanta has a deeply overstressed sewer system, because we as a city have a tendency to replace infrastructure development with dreams. Midtown Atlanta floods at the drop of a hat even if our normal rain goes on a little too long: it was in no way able to handle the actual weather that was happening. Driving back from a dash out to a gas station I’d made at lunch, I saw streets flood with feet of water.
When I made it back to work, I made the completely coincidental choice to park under some trees on the close end of the parking lot. All I was trying to do was save myself as much time on the run in to the building: however, it turns out that I also managed to pick high ground. The other end of the parking lot, where water backed up against a retaining wall by some railroad tracks, flooded so high that it ruined several folks’ cars. The building owner’s preventative solution for this was to draw white lines over by where those cars had been parked, which seems perhaps not an Ideal Solution.
But, luckily, the rain didn’t make a reappearance for Captain America’s birthday. Instead I got to stand on a porch and eat veggie flatbread and be, on the whole, generally pretty okay with how things are going.
Porch weather like that is what Chicago is made of. Sure, we have suicidal winters, but the rest of the year is drink-a-beer and take-a-deep-breath kind of weather that totally makes up for the I-wanna-die-winter. Kinda. I think it’s been a while and I’ve forgotten how miserable it really was, fooling myself into thinking it’s worth it.
We have to ford the rivers when it rains here too though. Today I’m barefoot at the office while my socks and shoes dry out because I had to swim to work. You mean city planning isn’t built on hopes and dreams…?