With yesterday’s solstice, summer began, with its pleasurable fiction of long days and easy nights. Few really work less in the summer, but the lingering daylight lures us outdoors. Daily life outside of work takes on a new character.
Evanston’s lakefront, parks, bike paths, art festivals, block parties and outdoor cafés beckon, offering perspective on the work week.
There is little respite, however, from the heat. Even the coolest air-conditioned office or the tree-shaded home must pay homage to summer’s hot weather – in terms of higher uses of electricity or water, for example. The City opens cooling centers in community centers during a heat crisis, and free beach tokens are available to eligible residents at the Civic Center and other City outlets. But one of the greatest dangers of intense summer heat might be called exothermic rage. We used to call it “letting off steam” but there is always a chance it can escalate to violence.
We all see it (and maybe do it) – the impatient, important driver whose hand is glued to the horn; the laughing self-absorbed group on a sidewalk too busy make room for others; the subtle one-upsmanship about home, job or family in casual conversation; the passive-aggressive pedestrian jay-walk strut – subcutaneous, defiant anger ready to spring at the first sign of victimhood.
That sort of anger is a luxury this community can no longer afford. We all need to make the effort to look out for one another – share the road, check on frail neighbors and enjoy the irony, if not the humor of this season of ever-shortening nights that we still call “summer.”