Now that it is June I keep thinking of things I want to do when I get back to Buffalo. There is nothing like a Buffalo summer.
You can get even more specific. When we were teenagers I remember my cousin Caroline, who lived on Depew Avenue, talking about how wonderful a North Buffalo summer was. Now, living in North Buffalo myself, I see what she meant. Hertel Avenue, baking in the sun. The freight trains thundering past on the tracks by Linden Avenue. Tennis tournaments in progress in Delaware Park. You pass the zoo and the giraffes are out. That is a true test of summer, when the giraffes are out. They are out only on the nicest days.
What was the zoo thinking, shipping the elephants out for the summer? I know they are revamping the elephant house, but there has to have been some way around that, some better solution, that would have allowed the elephants to stay. Sometimes it is as if our public institutions just want to stick it to us, you know?
Well, I do not need bad karma today. I will resist ranting about the elephants. Instead I will list a few things I love about Buffalo in the summer.
1. Sunset Bay Beach Club. The best beach, with wonderful sand, and a bar with two-for-one specials and great gin and tonics.
2. Niagara Street. I have always loved this gritty underappreciated street. I love to ride my bike on it and smell the river and then eat at one of its Italian restaurants. That is a perfect summer day.
3. You can also walk or ride your bike across the Peace Bridge. Beat the cost of gas! My sister and I did this a lot when we lived on Delavan. We would take a whole day to bomb around and walk to the Peace Bridge and on over to Fort Erie. It's fun to walk to a foreign country. You feel like such a vagabond. And Fort Erie reminds me of my next summer treat...
4. Happy Jack's. A wonderful and undersung institution. One waiter told me it has been there, run by the same family, since the 1930s. Last time I checked they had a patio, so you could sit by the river. I have not checked recently but I plan on doing so this summer.
5. Fort Niagara. Not only is it beautiful, but it is a world-class historic destination. It's so rare, in our country, to see buildings that date from before Mozart was born. Listen to me. I always think in terms of musicians. When Howard bought Big Blue downtown, I got dreamy and said, oh, when that house went up, Johannes Brahms was a young man.
6. The new canal slip historic site downtown. I have been there only once but already I know I will be knocking around there a lot.
7. The Miss Buffalo. Nothing like it on a sultry summer night.
8. The Finger Lakes. Not exactly Buffalo, but near. And as beautiful as anything you will find in Europe. I have been all over Europe. I know. There is this very dry Gewurztraminer they make a the MacGregor winery, I think it's called, that tastes like citrus, like grapefruit. I am normally not a white wine drinker but I want a glass of that. I wish I had one now.
9. Wineries in Chautauqua and Niagara counties. I have not been to many but this is the summer I will go. I am getting into the habit of telling outsiders that Buffalo is in wine country. Well, we are!
10. One more slot to make this list an even 10.... what to choose ... what to choose ... Well, this is an off-the-cuff list so I'll just throw out one more thing. The patio at Duo. Has anyone else seen this patio? It's stunning. I can't wait to go there for a late-night gin and tonic. Best of all you can walk there from Big Blue. So I have a chance of dragging Howard.
This makes me feel good that I am flying home tomorrow.