,TC You know you're in the midpoint of a Baltimore summer when the crepe myrtle explode into a deep fuchsia bloom. And the goldenrod is just starting to pop out.
You also can detect that we are in the heart of heat blasts when customers get picky, picky, picky at neighborhood snowball stands. A request for a chocolate snowball, with vanilla ice cream, couldn't be much fun for the seller.
In itself, the request isn't so bad, but some demanding snowball addicts will specify that the ice cream be placed on the bottom of the cup, or worse yet, that a type of snowball parfait be made, with a layer of crushed ice, then the dip of ice cream, then the second layer of ice, topped off by the chocolate. And of course, all these instructions are given while there are at least a dozen other hot and thirsty people waiting in line.
And though it's often repeated, there is a fervent belief that a meal of steamed crabs and ice cream inevitably is followed by vile nightmares.
One of my favorite old Baltimore prescriptions for taking on the region's wretched humidity is a dusty application of talcum powder. You still see people who look as if they were hit by a flour sack. But it's only talcum powder.
This year has been a summer of first-class water pistol battles. The big plastic Super-Soaker water guns are making for terrific make-believe wars on places like Collington Avenue, where there seldom is a dry pair of marble steps remaining after a hydro-ammo skirmish.
Elsewhere around the city this summer:
* The spewing geyser inside Druid Hill Park's reservoir is working again, throwing out a column of water.
* The construction fence just came down from around the 70-odd-year-old Greenway Apartments, Charles and 34th streets. The large Georgian Revival building has been closed for extensive and careful renovations for more than a year. It's now Johns Hopkins University's McCoy Hall and is used for student housing. In the heyday of Charles Street, the Greenway was one of the city's better addresses. Four-term Mayor Howard Jackson lived here, as did descendants of George Washington and Maryland Revolutionary War figures William Paca and John Hanson.
* Another Charles Village landmark has been the subject of major edifice confusion this month. It recently was announced that the deconsecrated SS. Philip and James Church building in the 2700 block of N. Charles St., which was used as a church from 1898-1930, is being renovated as the new home of Johns Hopkins Press.
People mistakenly mixed this report with the present, much functioning SS. Philip and James Church in the 2800 block of N. Charles St. Pastor William A. Au had to announce from the pulpit that all is well and there was no last mass scheduled at his church. Msgr. John J. Duggan, pastor-emeritus, also heard from many confused people.
* The Federal Hill neighborhood has never looked better this July. Residents there have been busy outfitting each corner of intersecting streets with oversized flower pots filled with vines and geraniums. It's a small touch but its seems to add a cooling note to the hot pavement. Come lunchtime, dozens of downtown office workers forsake Harborplace and its restaurants for a walk south on Light or Charles streets for a sandwich in the Cross Street Market area.