Thursday, July 19, 2012

Too Hot to Write? What’s Your Remedy?

I’m happy to see you here at my back fence. Sorry about the heat, y’all, but I guess that’s what summer’s all about. 

For more than two weeks now, we’ve been sweltering in unusually hot, dry weather here in Michigan. I know, I know. As a native Texan, I should be able to cope with 90 and 100 degree temperatures, but hey, it’s been a long time since I lived in the Hill Country and even longer since I lived on the Texas Gulf Coast. I love being outdoors, folks, but when my skin feels like it’s melting off my bones, that’s too hot for me. 

I don’t know about y’all, but I drink lots of iced tea in the hot weather. Not sweet tea anymore, much as I’d love to. I like Arnold Palmers, too. You know, the half lemonade and half tea drink made famous by the great golfer. I remember Mama always kept a pitcher of cold, sweet tea ready in the ice box when I was growing up. And yes, we called it our ice box, even though it was electric. Sweet tea was served at every meal. For a long time, I didn’t know there was any other kind. 

There was no central air at home back then. Not many people had it. Instead, heavy, black table fans were in every room in our house, humming day and night as they tried desperately to send some cool air our way. Once in a while, when the heat grew unbearable, Mama would put a bowl full of ice cubes in front of the fans. Ah, instant air-cooler. But the ice box only had three ice cube trays, so she didn’t do that often. We had wonderful front porches, though, where we’d sit in the evenin’ and catch a breeze before we went to bed. I love porches! 

There was no air-conditioning in the churches or schools, either. Church services and school sports went on as usual, no matter what the reading on the thermometer showed. September could be cruelly hot for the football games, too. And you know what? We kids never even thought about the heat. Really. I ‘spect it was because we were used to coping with it. That and taking the occasional refreshing splash in the river.
It was January when I moved to Michigan and I truly never thawed out until July. Glory be, I’d never seen that much snow in my life and had to learn how to walk in the white stuff without my feet flying out from under me – which they did more than once. No one else seemed to have the problem I did – because they were accustomed to it.

I’m accustomed to Michigan winters now (kind of) and the current heat wave here has affected my ability to concentrate. To write. To cook indoors. (Grilling is the only way during summer, isn’t it?) I cope now by heading to our new digs at the lake and glorious air-conditioning. Cool salads and grilled meats and veggies are the menu on those dog-days of summer. Plenty of cold drinks and ice water to stay hydrated, too.

So tell me, what’s your secret to staying cool? How do you cope with the heat and does it affect your work? If you’re a writer, do you have a comfortable, cool place to write, to concentrate and forget the blazing sun outside? As a reader, do you read by the pool or in the cool comfort of an air-conditioned home or coffee shop? And more importantly, what’s on your summer menus?

I hope you will stop back next week for a visit. I’ll have some new photos of our lake place and maybe a summer recipe or two. Summertime and the livin’ should be easy. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it, y’all.


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