Monday, August 06, 2007

Welcome humidity and a smiling face

Saturday evening we returned from a two-week west coast trip, half spent in Southern California, half in the far north end of the state. As the doors of the plane opened at Lambert, I could hear a man in the front of the exit line moan and exclaim, "ahh, there's that humidity". I smiled inside.

A friend met us at the airport, and on the drive home she got lost, trying to avoid Inner Belt construction. We wound up on the west side of the 270 at McKelvey! Nonetheless, we still managed to make it home to our South City address in about 30 minutes.

Upon arriving home, stepping onto our sidewalk, we looked up at the giant street trees lining our block. Huge, ancient, trunks soaring straight up fifty or sixty feet, leading to a massive shady canopy. By comparison, few of the places we visited out west had trees between the sidewalk and the curb, and the natural vegetation there was usually less than 25 feet tall. Returning home to our forested, all-brick, city neighborhood was like walking in a medieval village.

We shopped a Safeway store in California's Redwood country. They had two prices on all the products. "Safeway Club" members received the lower price; non-club members paid a 40% premium. Asking a store employee about the two-tier pricing policy, all the man said was "Welcome to California!"

While visiting family in the far north end of the state, California is in its mid-summer heat. Day time temps routinely hit the 100 + degree mark. Since, homes are built from wood frame construction, stepping into the garage is just like being inside a wood sauna. You can feel the dry heat burning the lining of your sinuses.

Travelling counter-commute saved us from sitting in the miles and miles of backed up traffic we saw heading the opposite direction on most the metropolitan area freeways we drove.

Yet the strangest part of our trip was the noticeable lack of interpersonal communication between people in public. There was minimal eye contact or words spoken. And most of the outside streets were deserted. People live in their cars. Downtown LA after 5 PM is empty.

Back home, while buying a few things Sunday morning to restock our empty fridge at our neighborhood Schnucks, a lady cut me off from an aisle walkway. Immediately she looked up, smiled a friendly smile, and apologized. I assured her it was nothing, thanked her for her kindness, and was reminded once more how much the little things add up to make St. Louis such a great place to live.

Returning from the store, our A/C was blowing warm air. By the end of the day, it would warm to near 90 degrees in the house. According to the weather report, there's a week of high heat and humidity to come. Not to worry. We wouldn't trade it for a "dry heat" any day.

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