Before noon, I had worked up a sweat. How? Sitting on my shady screened porch reading the newspapers.

It’s hot here where I live. I don’t yet know the official reading but the prediction was that we would reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It was humid, too.

And what’s wrong with this picture? Overnight, the seasons officially changed. Summer ended. Fall began.

A friend told me a couple of days ago that fall is his favorite season. When people ask him why, he jokes, “Because I like to see things die.” But I know why he really likes the season. The summers in the southern U.S. are so excruciatingly uncomfortable, but autumn at least offers some hope of cooler temperatures.

I know some people relish the heat. I don’t. My family has lived in this sort of climate for generations, but I must still have too much Celtic blood flowing through my veins to adjust. The only time I’ve been comfortable out of doors in several months was during a vacation to Ireland and Scotland, where the temperatures are suitable for human habitation. They complain about their weather, too, but little do they know. Putting on a jacket, occasionally, in August, as I did there, feels like heaven to me.

I wonder sometimes how this place must have seemed to the first Celts who arrived. They were Scots. They came in 1733 — in February. The weather in February is tolerable here. I like February, maybe because that’s the month when I came into this world, too. But how did those early Scots find that first summer in a new British colony, centuries before air conditioning but not before heat and humidity and gnats and mosquitoes and roaches and the other menaces of a southern summer in what’s now the U.S.? The fact that any of them stayed through a sweltering June, July, August and, yes, a hot September, too, is stunning.

And me? Why have I stayed all these years? A simple reason: I love people here, many people. We have forged a culture of sorts, with some good elements along with many bad ones. Yes, it’s hot here and it’s humid. But, yes, too, this is home, no matter what.

A hot home.

I go out in the heat every day. Often, I stay out in it for a couple of hours at a time. But I always long for the cool. The start of fall to me is not about watching things die, as my friend said. It is about hope. Hope that more tolerable weather lies ahead soon.

Hope is a good thing. If the weather can change for the better, maybe the culture can change for the better, too, in the place that I call home.

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Keith Graham

Keith Graham

Keith Graham was among the recipients of the prestigious Stella Artois prize at the 2010 Edinburgh Festival. Named for a blind piano player, he is also well known for always giving money to street accordion players. A quotation that he considers meaningful comes from the Irish writer Roddy Doyle: "The family trees of the poor don't grow to any height." In addition to contributing to Like the Dew, Keith frequently posts quotations and links and occasionally longer articles at http://tartantambourine.com/