I love the summertime, I always have. Summertime was long days and warm nights, weeks without worrying about homework and hours wasted at the neighborhood pool. The heat of a North Carolina summer meant windows down on the way out to Mapleview Farm for a cone, or days trickling by on the banks of the Eno River.
I love the summertime, but I’ve watched this summer pass mostly through the window above my desk. It’s been profoundly odd, needless to say. It’s been a summer unlike any I’ve ever experienced, and unlike anything I ever hope to experience again.
Every summer passes, though, and some more quickly than others. Even ones that drag on endlessly eventually find themselves with a blaze of colors in the boughs of the trees and a particular coolness.
It’s not cold, not quite; the true cold is reserved for the dark months of winter. It’s the most subtle touch of a cool, dry breeze beginning to chip away at the oppressive humidity of a Southern September. Usually, it’s a bittersweet reminder of the passage of time. This year, it’s a welcome change, like an old friend.
My friends and I have always called it ‘football weather.’ Regardless of if the season had started or not, whenever we begin to feel the hint of an autumn cold front rolling through, or happened to catch a particularly crunchy leaf on the sidewalk, we’d remark that football weather has finally arrived. It’s a cause for celebration, always, although this year there was a bit of uncertainty in the celebration.
Still, even in the midst of this weird college football season, and at the end of an incredibly long and challenging summer, football weather arrived. I realized it the other night, when I was taking out the trash; the slightest chill and a conspicuous lack of the stickiness of the summer months. That familiar chill, reminding me that the t shirts and shorts of the past few months wouldn’t be useful for too much longer, could only mean one thing.
Football weather is here; so is football. The coronavirus-mandated two-week lull in the Tar Heels’ season is past, and there will be a football game this weekend. The team from Chapel Hill is headed north, shipping up to Boston, to borrow a phrase from the Dropkick Murphys. The high on Saturday, at time of writing, is forecast to be partly cloudy with a high of 65 degrees. The evening may even drop into the 50s. That’s football weather.
And that’s still a reason to celebrate.