Burden of summer heat borne away on a breeze

Summer heat in New York City.

Passengers wilt on crowded subway platforms. Roadway tar melts. To avoid the sun, I walk in the shade on avenues and side streets. At night, I hear the whir of air conditioners outside my open bedroom windows.

To escape the heat, one evening I head for the shore without ever leaving the city. My destination: Coney Island in Brooklyn.

Poet Walt Whitman, writes Gay Wilson Allen in "The Solitary Singer," used to carry "Homer and Shakespeare in his pocket to read on his jaunts to Coney Island by himself."

I join a friend at KeySpan Park, a new stadium in the city, where two minor-league Class A teams, the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Pittsfield (Mass.) Astros, are playing.

From our $5 seats in right field, I see, in a nearby amusement park, flashing lights on the Wonder Wheel - a massive Ferris wheel - and cars of the death-defying Cyclone roller coaster. (I delight in not being a passenger on the latter.)

Before the start of the game, Brooklyn Cyclone players sign autographs for fans, both young and old, and pose for photographs.

The game begins, the flood lights come on. I eat a hot dog. The frankfurter was introduced to Coney Island in 1874 by a German immigrant.

A festive spirit pervades the ballpark. I enjoy watching people enjoy themselves. Joy should be a part of every life.

We move to seats by third base. From here, beyond the bleachers and outfield fence, past the Coney Island boardwalk, I see the ocean.

The sea, the sea! A breeze, the first in several days in seems. The oppressiveness of the heat vanishes without a trace. I feel the removal of a burden.

The light of the full moon is reflected on the water. A large white cruise ship heads out to sea. The stifling city seems far away.

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