Summer Guide » Summer Guide Features

The Elements of a Long Hot Summer

Exploring the hard parts of the hot months


As John Steinbeck wrote in his memoir Travels with Charley, "What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness." We're big fans of the idea that there are two sides to every story, and that includes summer itself. Sure, those dew-touched mornings on the Greenbelt are life-affirming, those bike rides through the foothills are spectacular and there's nothing quite like being wrapped in the near-narcotic sweetness of a Boise summer evening.

But we live in a desert, and deserts are harsh places--especially in the summer. It will be hot, almost unbearably so for a lot of people. There will be allergies and dust storms, our lawns will die and we'll get stuck in traffic. Almost certainly, a blanket of sun-choking smoke will descend on us for at least a week, lighting the Treasure Valley's sky on fire and making us feel like we're living through a nuclear winter. These are the prices we pay for the other, unparalleled benefits of summer in Boise.

What follows is a summer guide of a different type; instead of going on and on about how wonderful the hot months in Boise are (and they are indeed), we take a serious look at some of the challenges we face as a growing, high-desert community.

Organized by the elements (earth, air, fire and water), some of these challenges are universal--construction and traffic happen everywhere--but others are not. The dryness of our region impacts us in almost every way: from the amount of water available to quench our yards, to air quality problems stemming from nearby forest fires.

Elsewhere in this edition of Boise Weekly you'll find more traditional summertime fare: a roundup of arts and music events, as well as a calendar of happenings in Idaho's second-largest city. But for these few pages, we're facing facts: More than once this summer we know we'll complain about some aspect of the season. Think of this guide as a primer on how to complain with authority.