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No Bad Season: How to Love a New Orleans Summer

I like to say New Orleans has three good seasons, and summer isn’t one. There are the hurricanes, of course, and then there’s the heat. No ordinary yellow clanging, it’s neither cut by sea breeze nor leavened by altitude, not dry like scorched cane stubble but swampy, bottomless, and wet. Our heat clings.

Standing in line for snowballs you smell it. Red-faced kids in swimsuits and baseball cleats glom together in sticky packs, playing clapping games. Dogs damp from rolling in wet grass collapse on the Hansen’s hot pink concrete, panting. A ceiling fan mixes a maelstrom of sweat and syrups: salt over strawberry over spearmint over orange, nectar cream, tiger’s blood, passion fruit, cardamom. Our shoes stick to the floor as we move slowly toward the machines making snow from huge clear blocks of ice. Their blades fill the air with throbbing. “It’s hot!” we say to one another—but it’s only when the cold hits your tongue that you remember what “hot” means. It’s all in the contrast, that sudden distinction between what’s you and what isn’t. Until then, you’ve been one with the atmosphere: ninety-eight degrees and mostly water, inside and out.

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