This weekend we celebrate the beginning of the summer, whether we call it Memorial Day or not. Barbecues and swimming holes and sun hats beckon. Our public pools shall open, we shall brush last summer’s sand from our sandals, and hopefully the sun will emerge long enough to let us enjoy at least one of the two. This, I must admit, is the dawn of my favorite time of the year.
In late May, at least in this hemisphere, the anticipation of summer reaches its zenith. So does my nostalgia for summer heat: if not for the sting of a molten seatbelt, then at least for the feeling of easing carefully into a hot car, rolling down the windows, and turning up the radio. What a particular and vague summertime fantasy, and yet it’s the one I keep up. Not least as I listen to old episodes of the late Paul Ray’s Twine Time at noon on a Wednesday, gray clouds hovering low and nary a valid UK drivers license in sight.
So I throw myself back in time to the most predictable, extended, basic heat I’ve known: to summertime in Texas. Which, let’s be honest, lasts almost all year long.
In my couple of years there as a grad student, KUT (Austin’s NPR affiliate) broadcasted Ray’s show on Saturday nights. I listened religiously along with what I imagined to be most of the rest of the city. Ray’s playlists were golden, and thankfully some remain as evidence. His specialty was rhythm and blues, but he seamlessly mixed in classic country and rock and roll songs that together conjured hours of toe-tapping - no, actual full body dancing - bliss.
So if you’re alone in a car driving nowhere or in your garden with a hibachi grill, or even if you find yourself wrapped in sweaters at your computer just imagining you were: turn up the volume. In the latter case, the videos are for you.
Oh and if you want to read more about the Texas sun (and a hemisphere of others), we hope you'll revisit our top sunshines.