My work for the newspaper doesn’t usually overlap with this blog, but today is the rare exception. Copied below in its entirety is my “Skinny,” or a rotating column that I get to write every five or six weeks. (It’s called The Skinny because it’s printed on a narrow margin in the physical newspaper.) Anyway, this is what it feels like to live in Provo in the summer:
Summer sound: Provo sizzles in the spring and summer. Yes, it gets hot, especially in July. But the city really starts to buzz and bustle almost as soon as April starts leaning toward May.
All of Utah County enjoys cool weather and late evenings after the winter melts. Provo, however, is unique. For starters, thousands upon thousands of college students — whose presence during the rest of the year requires the city to stay relatively large — leave during the spring and summer. With the students gone, the streets empty and the traffic hushes. The museums, the restaurants, the apartment buildings — in short every big thing that exists in Provo because it’s a college town — immediately become more intimate.
The result is that Provo summers perpetually exude an after-hours, insiders-only atmosphere. And the insiders happen to be anyone who sticks around. You can ride your bike down the middle of University Avenue on a Friday night. You can wander downtown, listening to the Rooftop Concert Series echoing off the buildings. You can swing from a hammock between trees older than your grandparents.
When I was in college not so long ago, students who stuck around sometimes whispered about Provo summers, like a kind of treasured secret. Between the late dinners, the concerts, the Freedom Festival and the farmers market, it was something that had to be experienced.
But even after school gets out, the city remains an uncommon mix of age and youth, especially in the downtown area. Take a walk in the evening and you may hear distant guitars. You’ll see lights strung between trees and the flaking eves of pioneer homes. You’ll smell the corner bakery. In my case, I used to know the summer had arrived when I heard the long notes of my neighbor’s trumpet through our open windows.
Some may call all of this noisy or chaotic. For me it’s beautiful, it’s vibrant and it’s filled with life.