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Essay: These are the Days

Matt Brown

A lot of us look at the transitional month of September wistfully.  The carefree days of summer are over, and we’re on to another grade – even if that means 28th or 36th grade. 

But Lake Effect essayist Joanne Weintraub is happy to see the post-Labor Day edition of our fair city:

These are the days, my friends! These SEPTEMBER days in Milwaukee. They're not so cool and they’re not so hot, and I mean both of those in a GOOD way. They're also not so crowded with THIS fest and THAT fest and the OTHER fest, and I mean THAT in a good way, too.

Look, summer in Milwaukee is great. The beach is great, the tomatoes are great, and of course the festivals are great. But just between us? Isn’t summer just a tad overrated?

For one thing, those lake breezes? Sometimes not so much, you know? Sometimes, in July and August, a person could swear she's in the Mississippi Delta. Or Death Valley. Or that really hot planet in Star Wars, or maybe I mean DUNE?

Anyway, summer gets HOT here. And when it's hot, we party. And when we party, we party hearty, and we party LOUD.

The festivals bring out the HARLEYS. Now, some of my best friends ride Harley-Davidsons. I think Harleys are cool, and I think it's even cooler that they're made in Milwaukee. But what’s less cool? Is 3 or 30 or 300 Harleys making that Harley sound--and YOU KNOW THAT SOUND I MEAN--on MY street at 2 o'clock in the MORNING. You MAKE THAT SOUND ON PURPOSE, HARLEY PEOPLE. YOU KNOW YOU DO. And asking you to stop? Would be like yelling down a well. Plus, you'd never hear me anyway over the SOUND OF YOUR HARLEYS, AM I RIGHT?

Ahhh, but I'm sounding so negative, and I'm actually feeling very POSITIVE. Because it's SEPTEMBER now. The heat is ebbing away, the festivals are winding down, and even the Harleys are going "potato-potato-potato" in a softer, sweeter key.

Life is LOVELY here in September. Right about now, Bradford Beach is already less crazy, and by the end of the month you'll need a SWEATSHIRT to sit on the sand. Sweatshirt weather at the beach:  Look, ma, no SUNSCREEN.

The FARMERS markets? Still going strong. Yeah, the peaches are gone, but you can get still get TOMATOES--and APPLES. Regular apples, heirloom apples, those apples that taste like pears and those other apples that taste like bananas? SWEET.

The summer wildflowers? They're still turning lawns and parks and median strips purple and gold,. And, speaking of parks, the Estabrook Park BEER  garden is less crowded right now but STILL as amazing as ever. I have a date to go there for a cold one before September is over. And when I’m there, I plan to make another date to go RIGHT BACK.

And for walking off the beer calories? You can't beat September for that, either. From Mequon to Mukwonago, the air is fresh and the breeze is frisky. Not that I'm going to walk all the way from Mequon to Mukwonago in one day, of course, but when it was 70 and sunny the other day? I FELT as if I COULD.

Yup, 70 and sunny. That's September, or at least the best of it. Not that there's anything wrong with SIXTY and sunny, of course. In Milwaukee, we call that OCTOBER. And I LOVE me some October, too. Before I moved here from the East Coast, nobody told me that leaves turning brilliant red and gold against a brilliant blue sky each October isn't just a Vermont thing.

And that's one more lovely thing about September: It eventually becomes lovely October. Which, in turn, becomes ALMOST-as-lovely November. Which eventually becomes December, January and February.

Which, OK, can be a LITTLE bit chilly. And when I say chilly, of course, I mean as cold as that ice planet in Star Wars, and this time I’m pretty sure I DON’T mean Dune.

Oh, but why bring that up? It's SEPTEMBER, remember? WARM, but not too HOT. FUN, but not too CRAZY.

So HAVE an apple, NEIGHBORS. HAVE a beer outside. Heck, have TWO beers outside. After ALL, it IS Milwaukee, aina?

Lake Effect essayist Joanne Weintraub, the former TV critic for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, is a freelance writer and editor.