Chilling on These Summer “Dog Days”
By Jeff Salter
How do I feel about the heat of summer? Am I able to stay reasonably cool? How?
Before I say anything else, let me clarify that I’d rather be too warm than too cold — except when I’m sleeping (I find it difficult to sleep when it’s hot). Let me add that about a day before I composed this blog, I saw a weather map showing vast areas of the U.S. in triple digit temperatures… some of them also in drought conditions. So I’m writing from a vantage point of feeling very blessed, weather-wise.
That said, let me approach these issues of this HOT topic from four different angles:
As a Kid
Born in MS, I had also lived in IL and GA before moving to southeast Louisiana for first grade. The summers in Covington were quite hot and humid and we didn’t have air-conditioning until, I believe, my junior year of high school. Summers were hot, sticky, and rife with skeeters and chiggers. Our large kitchen had a huge exhaust fan which helped cool that space, but the bedrooms were stifling and I always found it difficult to sleep, despite both screened windows being wide open.
To cool off, we went to Red Bluff, a portion of the Bogue Falaya River way out of town, or to the city park (a different stretch of the Bogue Falaya). Plus, we could frolic – though it’s a stretch to say “swim” (since the water was so shallow) – at Mandeville’s south shore of Lake Ponchartrain. Not far from that site was Fountainbleu State Park, which also had a designated swimming area. At some point the city opened a municipal pool and we’d bike there with friends or siblings.
But our all-time favorite swimming – which was perhaps two or maybe three times per season – was going with our dad to visit one of his friends who had a private pool. Our hostess was always gracious and wonderfully hospitable.
In the late 1950s, we’d never even heard of a “water park” and if I’d ever had the good fortune to visit one, I’m sure I would’ve thought I’d died and entered heaven.
In the Arctic
As a U.S. Air Force enlisted man at the tender age of not-yet-22, I left my wife and young son in LA and went to Thule Air Base in northwest Greenland for a year of “remote” duty. Situated some 700 miles above the Arctic Circle and about 930 miles from the North Pole, Thule was not a place you worried about “cooling off” even in the summers.
Thule summers had their own challenge, namely some 10-12 weeks of “midnight sun” where the sun never went below the horizon. [In mid-winter the opposite occurred — some 10-12 weeks with no sunshine at all! ] But even in the dead of summer, the temperature was never uncomfortable. Only on the hottest days do I recall not wearing a jacket of some sort.
Grown, in Louisiana
Even after my separation from the military and return to LA, I still did not have air-conditioning in my dwelling until shortly before we moved to Baton Rouge for grad school. And none of our vehicles had A/C until a second hand sedan we got from Denise’s folks in the early 1980s — so summer travel was always awful.
As a kid, I had not appreciated the extent to which LA humidity – often near 100% – can combine with searing heat to make you miserable beyond description. I remember many summer days when just walking from the parking lot to my office (in Shreveport) caused my clothing to be soaked with sweat.
During one of those miserable hot and humid summers, while we had company staying over, our A/C compressor “froze up” and we were without A/C for a couple of days. It was during one of those heat waves when nearly everybody had HVAC units dying on them; we were fortunate to have a maintenance contract so the technician made our service call several days before he could get around to other frantic callers.
Retired, in Kentucky
Not having spent much time in KY prior to my relocation here in August of 2006 (after early retirement from my library job in Shreveport), I really didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to find the summers – even though they can be rather “heat-ful” never felt as awful as even the coolest summers in LA. That’s chiefly because of significantly lower humidity.
When we built our house here, I made sure we got adequate tonnage in our heat pumps to handle both the summer heat and the winter cold. And, for the most part, those units have been able to keep us comfortable.
I don’t do much swimming or water-related stuff these days. In fact, I don’t spend much time outdoors at all, so my chief coping mechanism for keeping cool is to stay indoors! One odd thing about the summer weather here — the public buildings are often so chilly during summer that I have to carry a jacket with me for when I’m inside.
What about you? Do you enjoy summer weather? Any particular activity which helps keep you cool?
[ JLS # 240 ]
Around these parts (SE Texas) we call July “the July Fry” and August “Ughgust”. It’s safe to say it gets dangerously hot here. In fact, we have just 2 seasons; hot and January. 😉 Most times, I don’t mind. I like the heat. I hate the cold. So yeah…
I guess since I’ve lived all my life here, I’m used to it. Don’t get me wrong, it can be grueling. But it’s just the way it is here.
As a kid, I grew up near a creek and there were plenty of times we swam in the creek. I also used a friend’s pool often. But for the most part, my summer activities weren’t centered around keeping cool. I was out riding my horse.
Nowadays, I stay indoors a lot mostly because I’m working on my desktop. We have a neighborhood pool we can go to. I really don’t like going to water parks. Too many people. I’m not a germaphobe, but…gross. But my favorite place to be is by the ocean. We spend every weekend we can at the beach.
(Did you see yesterday’s Musetracks? It was for you, ya know.)
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yeah, Tex. was prominent on all those national HEAT maps I’ve been seeing. I really feel sorry for you guys when the electric bills arrive. Try to keep cool.
Thanks for visiting and commenting.
Glad you reminded me bout yesterday’s Musetracks. I saw it and meant to comment but got caught on the “honey-do” list.
Yeah. The electric bills are enormous! Fortunately, my DH is in the A/C business.
LikeLiked by 1 person
definitely a plus in your climate
I enjoyed reading about your summers when you were younger. I cannot imagine being in a place where it is darkened for that long of a time.
I thought the humidity here was awful! I certainly do not want to go to LA in the summer with that sort of humidity.
I prefer the cooler months. It is so much easier to add layers to warm up than it is to cool down in the summer. After all a person has to stayed covered, though some people do not seem to think so. We are lucky enough to have a huge yard at my folk’s house with lots of mature trees. A few summers back the electricity went out. We all gathered at my parents’. It was far cooler in their yard since there is so much natural shade than at anyone else’s place that day.
I do enjoy going out where it is shady to play with my kids.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yeah, people often ask me if I miss being in LA, where I lived — on and off for much of five decades — and I usually say: I miss quite a few people, and there are some lovely places, but I hated the humidity and the totally flat landscape.
I visited New Orleans once, in May – and it was hot enough then! I walked around in sleeveless shirts and shorts, while the natives were much more warmly dressed. Like you, I feel terribly blessed to be avoiding the triple digit temps. As Angie mentioned, it’s a lot easier to add more layers of clothing on – you can only take off so much.
LikeLiked by 1 person
LOL. You should try New Orleans in August! Though it’s pretty miserable all summer long. And, with large sections being below sea level, you can imagine the problems with dampness.
yes — much easier to add layers than to suffer in clothing damp from sweat.
I’m finding it very hard to be too hot…and as equally as hard to find myself too cold.I think I ended up in the wrong spot geographically…there aren’t many true Spring and Autumns here and it usually goes straight form too cold to too hot and vice versa in No.Central KY.
I guess it’s all in each person’s tolerance zone. I remember in Washington, DC the Inuits and Eskimos who worked to the Bureau of Indian Affairs or other parts of the Dept. of the Interior never even wore their suit coats unless the temps dipped into the low teens. I am not made of such stern stuff!
LikeLiked by 1 person
We’re farther south than you, but in Possum Trot the spring and fall are both lovely. Some of our favorite time is out on the front porch in morning or evening (during those two seasons).