OK, we're two weeks into the month, so it's time to start dishing up some answers to questions asked as part of Ask Me Anything! Augusts 2011. (By the way, I'm not closing submissions yet! You can still ask stuff!)
Andy asks: So I was up there at the Sabres store in HSBC Arena AND everything WAS 1/2 TO 75% OFF!!! Do you know why?
I honestly don't know, but I assume it's for the usual reason: clearing out the old stuff in favor of the new stuff. I know that's a boring answer, but there's no way they're not going to be selling lots of Sabres stuff there, so my guess is they're clearing out inventory before they start bringing in newer items for next season, which I further assume Sabres management is banking upon for drawing in tons of people again. Anyone who doesn't live here anymore might not realize it, but the excitement that surrounds the Sabres these days -- especially since the new owner took over -- genuinely rivals the excitement that surrounded the Bills during the Super Bowl years.
Or, maybe it's all just a front and Terry Pegula is planning to move the Sabres to Albuquerque!
Sketch Element asks: I visit family in East Aurora about once a year in May or June. Can you recommend some neat things to do or places to go that I may not know about?
Any mention of East Aurora must include Vidler's, of course, but everybody knows about Vidler's. East Aurora also has a nice Mexican restaurant called Arriba Tortilla! that The Wife and I like a lot. (No, it's probably not "authentic" enough for folks who care about "authenticity" in their ethnic-themed food. I, personally, do not.) East Aurora has a terrific farmer's market that runs on Wednesdays and Saturdays, although The Wife thinks that there are more vendors present on Saturdays than Wednesdays.
Striking out a little farther from East Aurora, there are a bunch of nature options. It's about a twenty minute drive to the Beaver Meadow Audubon Center, which includes a lot of walking trails and a nature center; in the other direction is Chestnut Ridge Park, in Orchard Park, which is a big park in the hills that is an incredibly popular summer picnic destination and place for walking, jogging, biking, and even a frisbee-golf course. If one enjoys antiquing, there is the amazing Orchard Park Antique Mall (fifteen minutes from East Aurora).
And these two suggestions don't really help a May or June visit, but East Aurora is quite near any number of locations for New York State's Maple Weekend (in March), and E.A. is a great starting point for what is, in my opinion, one of the finest autumn drives in the country, Route 20A between E.A. and Canandaigua.
As with most other spots in the Southtowns, the one thing that E.A. really lacks that would put it over the top, for me, is a good bike path. There aren't any down here, and it's a damned shame.
And a reader asks via e-mail: Why is August my favorite summer month?
Well, first, there's weather. I dislike weather that is too hot and humid, and in Western NY, while our summers are generally fantastic, we almost always get one big blast of hot-and-humid, and it is almost always in July. Basically, every year I find two weeks of July sufficiently unpleasant that I don't want to leave the apartment unless it is to ride in an air-conditioned vehicle to a place that is also air-conditioned. (One of my big fears of global warming is that the length of Unpleasant Summer in Buffalo is going to get longer and longer as time goes by.)
August, however, usually sees the trend shift a bit. The temperatures start to fall, only slightly at first, but enough to be noticeable, and humidity also starts to take a downward trend. In July, there are days when we have to run our apartment's A/C all day; in August, we start to see days when I only have to run it for several hours in the evening when the heat of the apartment lags behind that of outside.
What else does August have going for it? Starting in late July and through a chunk of August, my favorite summer fruit is in season: peaches, nectarines, blueberries. Sweet corn peaks in August, and for several weeks we will dine on BLTs and sweet corn at least once a week. The Erie County Fair is in August. In sports, baseball's pennant races are starting to heat up and football training camps are in full swing. And usually sometime in August is when I can think about wearing overalls without being all sweaty and stuff.
And really, August just starts five terrific months. August leads right into September, and then to October (my absolute favorite month of the year), and then November (Thanksgiving and the beginnings of Christmas), and finally December (Christmas, snow, the culmination of football). So much of the stuff I look forward to on a yearly basis happens during these five months. Sweet corn and BLTs, the Erie County Fair, Labor Day weekend, school starting, my birthday, the now-annual trip The Wife and I take to the Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival, my now-annual pie in the face from The Wife, Pumpkinville, Halloween, Thanksgiving, snow, shopping with The Wife, decorating The Store and Casa Jaquandor for Christmas, and Christmas itself.
Oh, and Little Quinn was born in August.
August is a great month!
More answers to come...and feel free to ask more questions!