Getting Ready for Summer in San Francisco (And, yes, we all know that Mark Twain quote)

I recently read a blog with a hilarious (and true) list of 5 signs it’s spring in San Francisco:

I read this particular article (and I’m writing my own blog entry) while sitting in my iceberg-ish office, wrapped in a cardigan and scarf on a San Francisco Memorial Day weekend. The temp hovers in the mid-50s, the skies are gray, and the wind is tearing off the Pacific Ocean like an arctic fart.

Yes, indeed, it must be springtime in San Francisco!

The funny blog list led me to come up with a few more signs we know it’s spring in the City by the Bay, and I can’t help it if my list offers a parent’s perspective. Here are a few ways we know that San Francisco families are gearing up for summer:

1. A rush on off-season fleece sales. San Francisco parents have been known to swarm the sale racks at Old Navy and Nordstrom in a shark-like frenzy each spring as they search for the perfect bargain on winter clothes. Since San Francisco summers usually top off at an average temperature that is ten degrees less than January in Arizona (see #4) moms and dads of quick-growing kids like to load up on cheapie NorCal “summer” wear.  I have yet to witness a savvy retailer catch on to this phenomenon.  They still mostly stock tank tops and sundresses. I assume this is for the shopping tourist or the SF folks who need to buy true summer wear to take with them on their vacation to somewhere warm.

2. Public school fundraisers. I work for a non-profit website (Plug! Plug!) with a mission to serve as a resource guide for SF families, and every year around this time we get bombarded with requests to help publicize Spring Flings, Kiddie Carnivals, Big Bashes, Movie Nights, and of course my personal favorite, DogFest. My colleagues and I are more than happy to post tons of info on these ubiquitous school events, but along with spring fever comes a bit of a spring bummer that the District provides so little funding that parents have to hold a friggin’ dog show to pay for things like art.

3. Summer camp fisticuffs. And I’m just talking about the parents trying to get their kids in. If you have kids in SF, you may have heard the buzz in the school yard, on the playground, or at Acrosports lessons. Perhaps the messages are flying back and forth on the neighborhood list serve. Second only to preschool panic and public school application mayhem is the summer camp melee. San Francisco parents who work both inside and outside the home tend to bum rush the (thankfully many) summer camps starting early spring, hoping to land a coveted spot at one of the Rec and Parks programs. Some of them are incidentally harder to get into than Harvard University or Rooftop Elementary.

4. Transplants going home. In anticipation of a summer full of cold and fog, many parents who are non-natives of San Francisco (especially those who couldn’t land a decent day camp) pack the hell up and hightail it out to Delaware or Texas or London or Arizona to have a “real” summer with swimming pools and popsicles and sunburns. A real summer does not involve wearing fleece. Even in London, I’m told.

5. Festivals, fairs and parades. For those who choose to stick around and brave the cold, there is no shortage of free or cheap family entertainment. San Francisco families have the good fortune to take part in everything from county fairs to the Stern Grove Music Festival to San Francisco’s crowning glory, (second only to Halloween) the Pride Parade.

6. An odd burst of summer. For an occasional 48 hours parents get to rejoice in 90 degree temperatures. Everyone hurls their kids in the car or onto the N-Judah line to rush to the beach, the white mommies blinding each other with radioactively luminescent legs. The farmers markets overflow with mommies and daddies stocking up on fresh blueberries in their shorts and flipflops. Windows are cast open (as no one has AC here) and all manner of odd bugs make new homes in children’s beds and fruit bowls across the City. Parents scramble to find the window screens that were hidden away in the garage or attic or back closet after last heat wave in February. And then, as quickly as it arrives, the warm weather beats a hasty retreat, smothered by a white pillow of fog.  And out come the fleece jackets again. Purchased on sale at Old Navy.


One thought on “Getting Ready for Summer in San Francisco (And, yes, we all know that Mark Twain quote)

  1. Hey,

    Sounds like a San Francisco spring is a bit like a Northern Ireland summer! If we have two sunny days together the doomsayers start to say “the best of it is gone”.

    Even in the height of summer (!) the old friend the fleece is never too far away.

    At least we do not have the threat of bugs – they do not seem to like the weather here either!


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