Chapter 08

What doesn't grow in the summer?

The growing season here is cyclical. In late May or early June, there is a huge influx of adults: parents coming to retrieve their children and watch some of them receive degrees, and alumni/alumnae coming for reunions to eat too much, drink too much, and tell lies about how wonderful it was back then. Then they all leave quite suddenly. You can't find a parking space in the week before June 1st because of all the station wagons and moving vans. Every moving company is fully committed, every store is devoid of empty boxes.

August is a slow time. Ms. T. likes Cambridge in the summer. Empty sidewalks, streets you can drive down and walk across, no lines at stores and restaurants. A sleepy time. There are some restaurants that we avoid except in the summer, because they're just too crowded, the lines of students outside are just too long.

September is not a slow time. In a week at the end of August, the city changes from empty, slow, languorous, to crowded and noisy. A new crop has grown up overnight. Students arrive by the hundreds here, many thousands in the whole Boston area, all suddenly, right around September 1st. They all have to learn how to navigate on four wheels or on two wheels and avoid the potentially deadly clashes between two and four.

Students are like anti-plants. They bloom in the fall and winter, wither and disappear in the late spring, and are entirely dormant in the summer.