Wednesday, August 8, 2007

What To Do When It Is So Hot

The heat this week in Northern Virginia is oppressive to say the least. Thank goodness we have a nice home with air conditioning. I just hope we don't have a power black out this week. When it is this hot I start to remember other times that I have been hot, hot, hot!!!!!!!! When I was little and living on a farm in Ohio we had to keep the windows open and pray for a breeze because we didn't have any air conditioning back in the '50s and '60s. When we couldn't fall asleep upstairs we would go down to the cool and damp basement and sleep on an old couch. One of the hottest farm jobs to do in the summer was unloading a wagon load of hay with the help of an elevator. The one on the wagon had it the easiest. The ones in the hay mow really sweated through the undertaking. My Dad always insisted that everyone have a nice cold glass of homemade sweet lemonade before heading back out to the hayfield. I still remember the lemonade recipe:
4 lemons rolled then cut and squeezed
1 and half cups of sugar
and enough water to fill the pitcher to the very top

I also can remember two extremely hot days in Arizona. The first occurred in the '70s but let me tell you first about the one that occurred in July of 1989. My husband and I had taken our two daughters to Arizona for a long visit with friends and relatives. While in Phoenix we wanted to show our girls the campus of Arizona State in Tempe. Wow, was it hot in Tempe in July of 1989. Temps each day were approaching 116 degrees. Now that is hot, hot, hot! My husband always likes to say when people gasp at that number that it isn't so bad because it is a dry heat not a humid heat like back in the southeast. Well, let me tell you how you too can experience a dry heat----set your oven on 116 degrees and after the oven warms up put your hand in the oven to see how it feels. Now try to imagine how your whole body would feel in the oven. That's Arizona in the summer. Here are some more heat experiences in Arizona in July:

Use oven mitts or gloves to touch your car handles after a day of work or sightseeing.
You can burn your hands on the car doors. Erma Bombeck wrote about that.

Don't ever open a car sitting in the sun and just hop in to drive. Open all the doors and let
the built up heat escape first.

Don't sit down in a hot car that has leather or vinyl seats while wearing shorts. You will grill
your legs and buttocks to a crisp.

Don't ship your pet by air to or from Phoenix's Sky Harbor in July heat. If the plane sits
on the runway the poor pet will be baked to death in the cargo hold.

Try not to fly in the heat. Heat can stress the metal of the plane and lead to an accident.

Well, I think you get the picture. Arizona in July is hot, hot, hot! So here we are in Tempe on the campus of ASU and we are showing an amazed nine year old and a stupefied thirteen year old the sights. How hot was it? It was so hot that all of us decided then and there that if we managed to get to our car and to get the car cooled enough for entering and driving, we would never ever in a million years consider sending our daughters to school in Arizona. The problem was reaching the car without passing out in the heat since many of the campus buildings in the summer were locked so we couldn't rely on walking through buildings to get to the car. We used our campus map to plan strategic moves across campus: walk along the overhang of this building till you get here, then walk quickly as you can in this heat to reach those palm trees for shade, then walk by the trees next to that building over there, etc. We finally were able to do a retreat by car from ASU and our two daughters promised themselves and us that they would not apply to any Arizona universities. Suddenly the University of Virginia and James Madison University started looking pretty good. And that folks is how we avoided paying out of state college tuition. It just took one trip to Arizona in July to do the trick.

My other story about Arizona summer heat occurred one August day in 1975 after I returned from summer school at the University of Kentucky. Jack's mom mentioned that there used to be an old marble mine in the mountain range near Bowie and the Cochise Stronghold. Well, before we had thoroughly thought through this plan, we jumped in the truck and set out to find the marble mine and our fortunes. Mom directed my husband on where she thought that marble mine might be. Soon we had left the paved highway and were on dirt roads and then we were bouncing and banging around over no roads---just rocks and cactus. Then Jack's mom announced that this was just the beginning of the trail and that we were all going to have to get out and hike the rest of the way on foot. On foot! Well, my flip flops were not exactly hiking boots. Mom had on sensible mom shoes and Jack had on his sneakers so they were in better foot gear than me. So we walked and walked and walked and climbed and climbed and climbed but we didn't see anything that looked like a cave opening with a marble mine inside. We did run into some billy goats and some aggressive female geese that were intent on blocking our path by biting our legs and butts. This last experience led to a hasty decision to give up on making our fortunes by finding that marble mine. In the meantime the hot sun was bearing down on us. In the shade it must have been at least 100 degrees and remember that we didn't have shade. We just had rocks and cactus and heat. Why we had left in such a rush of enthusiasm that we didn't even have hats, water or sunscreen for protection. If I am ever in a presidential debate and someone asks me to give a past mistake I won't pull a Gulliani. I will answer immediately that my big mistake was making that trip with my husband and mother-in-law to find that marble mine near Bowie, Arizona. What a stupid thing to do. We did finally make it on foot back to the truck and we did a reverse trek over no roads, then dirt roads to interstate #10 and Mom's house trailer in Bowie. Jack and I both agree that the best shower we ever had in our entire married life was after that little adventure in the desert.

So what to do now that it is so hot outside? Stay inside and don't get any bright ideas. Just chill out like your house pets. They know better than to go out in this heat except for a quick trip to the outdoor potty.

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