When I lived in New York City, one of the reasons I wanted to move upstate was the extreme contrast in the summertime between me, the city dweller, and them, the country dwellers.
I would arrive upstate blinking uncomfortably, unused to the sunlight, pasty, work-obsessed, sober, and unhappy. My new country friends, on the other hand, were tanned, social, gorgeous, chatty, and always slightly drunk.
Summer in upstate New York was clearly a bacchanal–as it should be. Man, if you've survived that five-month winter with your sanity intact, you deserve to celebrate.
Now, I don't just live in upstate New York, I live in THE great resort town in upstate New York. We not only have a thoroughbred track that doubles our population from mid-July to Labor Day, we also have the New York City Ballet for a few weeks, which draws the higher-minded in droves. Though there are annoyances attached to this influx of poor non-Saratogians hoping to catch the spirit–you simply CANNOT park downtown in the summer–they generally add to our fun, not spoil it.
They occasion an explosion of civic pride that, because this is a resort based on gambling, is a little more naughty than it otherwise might be. Even the humblest homeowner surrounds his lawn jockey with a profusion of impatiens. Even the humblest merchant, like coffee shop above, pays a great deal of attention to the flower baskets.
Saratoga is all about the tacky annuals, which, because they so suit the Victorian character of the town, are not so tacky here. Though I prefer perennials that grow to the size of buses, I too, am a purposefully tacky gardener, filling my front yard with the kind of giant showy flowers in obnoxious tomato red and magenta that any real perennial lover would sniff at.
But summer is a party, and I never, ever want to forget that again.