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Saturday, June 23, 2012


It’s the summer solstice. The sun is beating down, and air conditioners up and down my block are grumbling as they try to cool things down inside their homes and cause periodic brownouts. Hummingbirds and butterflies visit my Rose of Sharons by the back door and the scarlet bee balm flowers in the back raingarden. In that raingarden, huge clusters of white blossoms cover the three-foot-tall native hydrangea.

 In the front yard, purple coneflowers, butterfly bush, native and hybrid day lilies, sage, peppermint, and lemon balm are all blooming, and the honeybees, bumblebees and more butterflies flit from flower to flower, as if at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Crimson geraniums and ruby begonias sit on the front porch and steps while zinnias bloom in rainbow shades in the basement window-well boxes, visited by wasps and yellow jackets, also important pollinators, though hardly my favorites.

I don’t know how this happened. It should be just barely spring, but somehow it’s that hot, full, lazy buzzing time already. It’s been in the 90s and 100s for weeks. We’re in a drought and long for a good rain, but clouds bypass us with their water. We’ve used all the collected water in our rain barrels to water the soft potted plants—geraniums, begonias, and zinnias—but even the hardy, drought-resistant natives are wilting in this heat.

In places where the climate tosses this kind of weather at the native populace all the time, they’ve developed a siesta culture to deal with it. When the sun is hottest, when everything slows down or crawls into some shade for a nap, they go inside thick-walled houses (to keep out the heat) and rest. We who live in Anglo-European cultures, however, bustle on, as if our Puritan taskmasters were flicking their whips at our backs. “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun.”

If the globe is indeed warming and the world’s climate changing drastically, we might be wise to adopt the siesta culture during the increasingly hot weather. Plan to rise early and retire right after lunch until late in the afternoon when we’d arise again and return to work, continuing until much later at night, eating a late dinner at 10:30 p.m. and going to bed at midnight. People would have more energy, and we’d get more done. It will never happen, of course, because of those Puritan taskmasters and their whips, so long ingrained in our DNA.

I’m finished with my blog post now, and I’m going to be smart and take a nap in a cool inside space. But first, let me wash some dishes and water those poor drooping plants and run to the post office and answer some emails and…

What’s your ideal way to handle blazing hot midsummer?


Jim Jackson said...

I will take naps in a too hot afternoon (but I'm retired so no one but myself can crack a Puritan whip now.) But my dog likes to remind me that the best way to cool off is to go jump in the lake.

Our lake is spring-fed, so although it warms up in summer's heat, it's never too warm. She'll jump in from the dock. I take the measured step-by-step approach until I get deep enough to count to ten and dive in.

Swimming keeps us cool; drying off in the warm sun feels good. And then I can justify the nap--the dog taught me that too!

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

As a beach writer, I guess my answer will be obvious--I go to the beach. No matter how hot, there is usually a breeze and when I want, I jump into the ocean to cool off. There's no better place than the beach on a hot midsummer's day.

I'm on Hatteras Island now. The water hasn't warmed up to its August temperature of around 80, it's more like 76, but it has been crystal clear, the waves so translucent, I can see through them to the sandy bottom--my "crystal" days.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Jim, you've got a smart dog. A lake swim is, indeed, a good way to cool off. And of course, all that exercise certainly justifies a nap. If only we were all as smart as out dogs and cats!

Linda Rodriguez said...

EB, just rub it in, why don't you? LOL Jumping into the ocean is not an option for the more landlocked of us, you know.

Hatteras sounds lovely with that warm crystal-clear water. I know you're having a great time. Enjoy!

E. B. Davis said...

Actually--I am, Linda. So much so, I'm staying another week. But--I'll be working on my writing too! The next time we come to Hatteras next month, is more of a fishing vacation for my husband, which means work for me. So, I've extended my gal pal week.

Warren Bull said...

I try to dress appropriately: underwear and tattered jeans shorts. If the doorbell rings I am dressed much too casually to answer it and I have to put on shoes to go outside. I guess I'll have to stay in and keep writing.

Linda Rodriguez said...

EB, I certainly don't blame you!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Warren, that reminds me of years ago when I had no air conditioning in the upstairs room that became my office. In the summer, I'd get the kids working on projects or reading books, and I'd go up to write. It was so stiflingly hot that I'd take off my clothes and sit there in bra and panties, sweating as I wrote. One day, my daughter, who never met a stranger, opened the door to a salesman and sent him upstairs to find Mom. V. embarrassing!

Anita Page said...

I spent the last afternoon of the recent heat wave stretched out in front of a fan reading Elmore Leonard's PRONTO--new to me. Didn't feel a thing.

Gloria Alden said...

Linda, you've gotta love kids - or not! Who was more embarrassed, you or the salesman?

I still don't have an airconditioning, but my house is well shaded and at least ten degrees cooler than other places nearby. I have ceiling fans that help, too. But that being said, I'm not a heat lover. I suffer when it gets too hot and humid. I find reading, writing or working on my computer the best thing to do when it's hot. If my mind is on other things, I don't think so much about being miserable. I have been know to doze off while reading on a hot day, but that's not often.

My dog sleeps in the library on the hardwood floor under the ceiling fan.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Gloria, how do you live without air conditioning? I used to. but not for years. I couldn't go back to that now.