Saturday, August 11, 2007

Late Summer in Washington

It is now late summer, a season I am so used to in Washington when it seems that Washington is a different city, and another if its lives is revealed. When Washington dries out in the summer heat and becomes parched, its surfaces crack -- the brick walls, the stucco facades, the pavements. It is a shabbier city, with a look of exhaustion, the split masonry, the trees heavy with dusty leaves, the grass a blackish green, clumpy and uneven, thick hedges and untrimmed rose bushes leggy and out of hand, needing to be dead-headed. The magnificent flowers of spring and early summer have vanished and gone to seed. There are no blossoms in August, and the days are either clammy and humid or else sunk in harsh, headachy heat with dense, gassy air. In summer the city is overwhelmed by its weather, and with its windows open, noisier. Washingtonians, at least the light skinned ones, seem self-conscious in the street, looking vulnerable and underdressed, their flesh exposed, either very pale or burned pink. That is late summer in Washington.

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