Time to fall back to the outdoors
In those colder northern climates, the winter months are a time for people hibernation, when only the most die-hard outdoorsy athletic types venture into the weather for fun and leisure activities.
But in Houston, the exact opposite is the case. As most of us merely tolerate the sweltering heat, we go from air-conditioned building to air-conditioned car to air-conditioned home in an attempt to avoid the outdoors entirely during the blisteringly hot summer days and nights.
For us, relief is spelled O-C-T-O-B-E-R. Our fall season, with a break in high temperatures, is actually what the northerners call an Indian summer. That’s the term for when the temperature is not quite as hot as in the summer months, but it is warmer than what northern climates expect in the autumn.
While chilly temperatures requiring jackets and multi-hued foliage are not a part of the fall season here, there is a sense of awakening by those who spent the long summer cooped up indoors.
Everywhere one looks on the streets and sidewalks of West U, people are emerging from their summer cocoons to go outside again. Whether to take a leisurely stroll, or a prolonged dog walk, a jog, or a bike ride, more people are outdoors in the fall.
Rejoicing in the temperature difference is Brian Hoogendam of Talbot Street, who shares a favorite outdoor past time with his young son. They take rides in his 1967 Corvette convertible with the top down.
“We love when the weather cools down because I won’t drive it when the weather is too hot,” Brian said. “This is our father and son activity – something I did with my dad as a child, and Drew loves riding in his car seat next to me with the top down, feeling the breeze.”
For those athletically-inclined residents, the break in the heat is also a cause of celebration – when they can relish the fresh air and milder temperatures.
Take resident David Sklar, a 16-year-old junior on St. John’s varsity football team. He describes the practices that begin in August as “torture.”
“It is about 15 degrees cooler in October – that’s the way football should be played,” David said.
The Starich family of Southwestern Street is an outdoorsy family, who believe in having an active and healthy lifestyle with lots of time together doing outdoor sports and activities.
Patrick Starich is a Cub Scout Leader for son Bartholomew (Bart), and his wife Marie is a Girl Scout Leader for their daughter Olivia.
The family does a lot of camping out in the fall months and spends most of their leisure time outdoors as well.
“That fall window of time, from late September to late November is the nicest time of year to be outside,” Patrick explains. “We spend lots of time outdoors enjoying family activities.”
Aside from camping out in October and November in scout camps and state parks, both children are avid equestrians who go horseback riding every weekend at the Sam Houston Equestrian Center.
Olivia also plays on her school soccer team and enjoys the fall season because at least she can count on some cooperative breezes.
Marie is a marathon runner, and although she bears running through even the summer months, she runs for longer periods of time in the fall, when the weather is “kinder.”
Although Jim McCartney of Plum Street is an avid golfer all year round, he is out on the links as much as possible through the month of October.
Though he doesn’t mind the hot summer temperatures so much, with the coming of fall, he knows his golf season is running short. That means more time outdoors on the golf course through October.
“It feels good being out in the afternoon, and I don’t mind the heat – I just enjoy getting outside and getting good exercise,” Jim said. “I can go and play golf around 5:00 in the afternoon and there is still enough light to get 18 holes in. I own my own business and I can arrange my own schedule, so I will be out there playing as much as possible. When the winter comes, golf isn’t as enjoyable in the cold. The ball hits differently – there is a vibration on the ball from cold temperatures, and the days get shorter after daylight savings time, so I am out there as much as possible in October.”
Here’s hoping these stories inspired you to get outside and enjoy our mild fall. See you there!