The summer of our discontent

September 02, 2002

NEVER MIND the astronomical calendar that tells us summer ends with the autumnal equinox in late September - everybody knows when summer really ends: Today.

And not a moment to soon.

There may be a few hearty souls mournfully packing away the beach totes and the sand chairs, fondly recalling sailing through sun-kissed, carefree days and longing for yet another dose of summer's splendor. But their numbers are small, and chances are their home isn't Baltimore.

It's been a long, hot summer in these parts. So hot pavement buckled and trains fell off their tracks. So hot that 43 Marylanders died of it, 27 in Baltimore.

A long, hot dry summer. Add drought to 100-degree heat and you get farm fields of dust and dry, stunted corn stalks. You get receding reservoirs and parched lawns, dirty cars and cranky babies. The kids couldn't play in the sprinkler, and on top of that all the flowers died.

A long, hot mean summer. Never exactly a haven from violence, the city this summer was a veritable shooting gallery, with bystanders far too frequently stopping more than their share of the lead.

A long, hot poor summer. In July, the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted three straight days of triple-digit drops. And "oops" became the operative word in the upper echelons of corporate America.

So welcome September; bring on fall. Autumn's chilly winds have never looked so good.

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