Ninety by Nine

Walking away from the soccer game this morning, already sweltering despite the 9 a.m. start time, I asked Jenn (I thought rhetorically): “Remember when it used to be brisk in October?” The weather app had at one point this week suggested it would be 92 degrees and raining this morning. A look to the left revealed nothing monsoonish on the horizon–just a particularly white-washed blue and some scattered cirrus; still it was creeping up to ninety by nine.
“No,” Jenn said. “I actually don’t. September and October have always been the hottest.”
Which Jenn empirically knows, having sweltered in the no AC pre-fab trailers of underfunded schools during her tenure.
“It’s always been hot in October.”
But there was a time before that, and I guess it must be a fading memory at this point, but I do remember when the breeze reversed in October and ferried with it an autumnal briskness. Jenn and I spent a lot of time at the coast those days–pre-career, pre-family–up on the cliffs above the Scripps Reserve, catercorner to my school, and late at night when the heat had probably long-lifted.
“No,” I counter–“It used to get cold. The first chimney fires were always in October.”
And this week, the chimneys did get lit: one night only, like a premier event. On Wednesday, it rained. Sweaters were pulled off the shelf briefly, smelling like wool having sat too long, the sartorial equivalent of a dog having dodged a bath for two weekends in a row. Dirty sweater weather, fulminating ash; over-eager chimneys and a new BBQ pit punching mesquite smoke into the air. (The new BBQ joint down the block serves up TX/OK panhandle fare and–seeing as I blaspheme on the regular–could there be Carolina BBQ instead, gawdammit…)
It got hot the next day. Super hot. Back to shorts and rolled-up cuffs. Luckily, we got central air this spring, in which case it’s now hot in October, just outside.
When central air was installed, it was an ordeal: the contractors found the attic trusses ultimately too narrowly configured–old standards–and they had to saw old wood to make room for new work. They labored for days.
I asked Jared, the apprentice: “Seemed like a pretty difficult job, yeah?”
J: “Usually I’d say ‘no big deal’. But, truthfully, that was the fucking toughest job I’ve ever done.”
I asked Jared to rate the gig on a 1-10 scale. He never gave me an exact answer, but there was an ashtray in the backyard full of Camels smoked down to the filter, which was answer enough.
Jenn said: “I don’t remember October being cold.” It used to be, then October and Spring became hot vs. the otherwise; on that rainy day, walking home from my neighborhood, smelling the smoke–the one day it was chimney smoke and not the BBQ pit roiling up a mess of ashes–there was the question: could it just be nice again?

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