I'm not a native, but have lived in San Francisco since the early 1990's so I feel that gives me some cred and enough experience with summer in the city to proclaim that it really is The Worst.
Seriously, how can you stand it? How can you stand the gale force winds, fog that seems to seep into your bones, and icy nights that require flannel blankets? IN JULY! How do you not want to slit your wrists every time you have to put on a wool coat when you leave your house in the middle of the summer, knowing that the rest of the country is content with some light layers, or maybe no jacket at all?
Is there a secret? Or do you actually hate it as much as I do?
Curious and Cold
Dear C and C,
"The coldest winter I ever spent...."
OK, enough with that bs Mark Twain quote that wasn't even written by Mark Twain. Yes, San Francisco summers can be chilly, but we're not talking tundra here, so no one is ever going to spend a summer in San Francisco that is as bad as a winter almost anywhere else. That fact alone is one of the reasons I will never mind the city's chilly scenes of summer. We are free from weather extremes, be it blistering heat OR debilitating cold, at any time of year.
I'm willing to forsake a couple of months of heat if it also means I don't have to worry about blizzards and sub-zero temperatures in the winter. And we better hope that this whole global warming thing really is a myth created by the Chinese, because San Francisco is not equipped to deal with weather extremes of any kind. Can you imagine trying to traverse the city's hills by bus or car after a snowstorm? And when the city DOES get its week or two of hot weather in the spring and fall, don't you really start to notice how many buildings don't have proper ventilation, let alone air conditioning? On days like that, when I'm stuck in my apartment with all the windows open and I still feel like I'm sitting in the middle of an oven, I am nothing but thankful that I don't have to deal with months of that crap.
Which is not to say the weather doesn't bum me out sometimes. It does! I actually do get kind of pissed off that I always have to bring along some kind of coat or sweater whenever I go out, and feel tremendous envy for those in other cities who do not have to bow down to the tyranny of outerwear all year long. But you know what I do to combat that?
I leave town!
Summer is, after all, vacation time, and what's the joy of going somewhere nice and warm in the summer if you already live somewhere nice and warm? San Francisco's lack of summer warmth has actually made me appreciate summer vacation a whole lot more than I think I would if I lived somewhere that didn't require a summer parka. Which is why every summer I take it to the extreme, and escape to the desert, where the days can reach 110º and the evenings aren't much cooler. A vacation there is like an entire summer's worth of heat, compressed into one week. And it makes coming back to San Francisco's fog a welcome relief.
I suppose if I had known anything else, I might feel differently about San Francisco summers, but it's all I've ever known. I doubt most Australians are super bummed that that they don't get a white Christmas, because summertime Christmas is the tradition they grew up with. And San Francisco summer is the same for me — it just wouldn't be summer if it didn't involve hearing the Fourth of July fireworks show but never seeing it, backyard barbecues that require you wear sweaters, gloves and hats, and being around at least a few people complaining about all of the above.
Rain Jokinen was born and raised in San Francisco and, miraculously, still calls the city home. Her future plans include becoming a millionaire, buying a condo complex, and then tearing it down to replace it with a dive bar. You can ask this native San Franciscan your questions here.In these Troubled San Francisco Times, there is a lot of talk about who was here when, and what that does (or doesn't) mean. In an effort to both assist newcomers and take long-time residents down memory lane, we present to you Ask a San Francisco Native, a column penned by SF native and longtime SFist contributor Rain Jokinen, which is inspired by a similar one on our sister site Gothamist, and is intended to put to rest all those questions only a native of this city can answer. Send yours here!