It ainít June, is it?
If it is, I donít want to be around for August.
Folks, it is downright hot out there. Itís bad enough being 95 degrees, but with 60 percent humidity, itís like walking around in a sauna.
Iíve said this before but it bears repeating: Whoever came up with the idea of a "heat index" needs a good beating.
For the decades since the invention of the thermometer, we were quite miserable enough looking at the little red line on the scale and saying, "Jeesh! Itís 95 degrees out here!" Weíd then consume copious amounts of our favorite cold beverage and vainly fan ourselves with rumpled copies of Orvis catalogs. Well, I would, anyway.
Then some yo-yo invents the heat index. So now, not only do we know itís 95 degrees, we are also informed that, when you factor in humidity, it feels like 103 degrees!
Did we really need to know that?
Heck, "wind chill" is not even as disturbing, though it springs from the same devious, demented, macabre need to make us more miserable than ever.
So this weekend, Iím playing around in the shop, restoring some bamboo fly rods and suddenly I notice that Iím standing in a puddle of sweat. It is so hot and humid, I keep dropping the fly rod Iím trying to wrap the guides on, and my eyes keep burning with salt.
I go and check the calendar in the shop: Sure enough, June 10. Not Aug. 10. Not Sept. 10. Itís only June and already Iím miserable.
They tell me it comes with age, but I think we need to factor in global warming and the extra three dozen pounds Iím carrying around, too, since I quit smoking. I had started to shed a little of it, getting more active this spring than I had been in the past two years, and I was quite proud of myself. But then, somebody turned on the heat and humidity, and I fear that soon Iíll be a couch potato again.
Romance writers, and folks like Faulkner and Hemingway, loved to describe the "steamy" and "sweltering" and "sweaty" South of literature, but I think they were suffering from heat stroke when they wrote all that nonsense. Thereís nothing romantic about it. Itís miserable. You feel sticky and smelly and matted, all at once. Itís just not nice.
It increases all sorts of other activities. Like if I have to run to town to get groceries. Well, in spring or fall, I can be working in the shop and just throw on some clean clothes, go do what I need to do, come home, change clothes, and get back to whatever I was piddling with. Now, you have to peel off soggy clothes and shower before you go. If you are bad at scheduling things during the day, as I am, you may end up taking three or four showers in a single afternoon. This leads to higher water bills, which of course, goes along with the higher electrical bills youíre paying for running the AC all the time. In the heat of summer, in a 160-year-old house, I swear some days my AC never cycles off until an hour or so after dark.
I have been thinking I need shade trees. The house was well-shaded prior to Hurricane Andrew, but now the entire sun-facing exposure is barren. I wish I had planted them when I moved in nearly 10 years ago, theyíd be big enough to provide some relief now. Iím looking for fast growing, Louisiana-suitable trees. I donít want to wait for shade in my golden years, Iíll be a withered husk by then. Or maybe a soggy husk. Whatever.
Thereís a story in my new book called The Summer People that approaches just that subject: Heat, and how it makes you lethargic, makes you too weary and heavy to move, sleepy, just wanna sit and vegetate. In the story I posit that there are people who dwell in the summer heat, who thrive in a world apart from that we see from behind the windows of our air-conditioned cars.
I might have been more right than I knew! I went to the shop when I got home last night, turned on the window unit AC, and it was an hour by the time it cooled down. I had been so sweaty, sticky and matted by then, all my strength and energy and gumption was sapped, all I could do was wait for the shop to cool down enough that I could find the energy to get up, turn off the AC, and go in the house to watch television.
I ask my girl, "Was it this hot when we were kids?" and we canít decide if it was or not. I donít remember being this hot. Of course, I was not a very active kid, unless you consider fishing exercise. I did a lot of horseback riding, but that, of course, is exercise for the horse, not the rider. I didnít ride a bike, which I regret, because I might have enjoyed it, but then, I didnít have anywhere to go, so what was the point?
A dear, dear friend of mine delights in telling folks how me and her son used to run around with towels tied around our necks like capes and play superheroes when we were kids. I remember those days well, but I donít remember being extra hot, wrapped in a Superman cape of terrycloth suitable for laying out on a beach. I remember once I wore it on the back of Kate, my quarter-horse, and when we took off the flapping towel Ė er, I mean cape Ė scared the old girl so badly she threw me. But that had nothing to do with it being hot, so yeah, I think itís hotter now than it was then.
I just looked at the Weather Channel. Itís 91 in Franklin, and feels like 99. Humidity is 53 percent. Wind from the north, northwest at seven miles per hours. Itís dark outside, but no cooler.
August. I donít wanna think about August.