The Heat Is On

I am nothing if not predictable.  Every winter I complain bitterly about the cold temperatures, icy sidewalks and super-dry air.  I resent having to wear extra layers of clothing to keep warm, and then add a heavy coat, gloves and hat when I’m going outside.  Especially if I’m going somewhere nice and all those extra layers actually have to coordinate.  I hate constantly having to apply lotion and lip balm to keep my skin from drying out and my lips from chapping.  I don’t like the bare trees and the colorless winter landscape.  Each and every year, I am officially sick of Winter the very second I pack away the last of my Christmas decorations.  All I want is for warmer temperatures to arrive.

And then Summer hits, with it’s oppressive heat, stifling humidity and zillions of blood-thirsty insects.  And I wonder just exactly why I was in such a hurry for this particular season to arrive.

Sure, Summer has a lot of good qualities.  The trees are green again, the flowers are blooming, home-grown fruits and vegetables are in abundance and few things are nicer than jumping into a sparkling pool on a hot afternoon.  But like all seasons, summer has its challenges.

fullsizeoutput_495fThe lawn that looked so wonderful during our annual two weeks of Spring is now riddled with weeds and sporting a ton of brown spots from where our dog uses it as her bathroom.  I’d rather not use harsh chemicals, so every year I spend hours pulling up the “creeping charlie” that spreads so fast it really ought to be named “sprinting charlie.”  But no matter how many mounds of weeds I pull, I can never get rid of it.  And no matter how many times my husband puts down new sod to replace the dead spots, it’s just a matter of time before my dog and her killer urine turn the grass brown again.

While I do like the simplicity of Summer clothes, my vision of walking out of my house without a care in the world isn’t particularly accurate.  Depending on where I’m going, I still have some additions to make.  If I’m heading out to my volunteer job walking shelter dogs, I have to make sure that I’m wearing plenty of sunscreen.  And extra deodorant, since I’ll be sweating buckets before my shift is half over.  If I’m going to do yard work, I need to add insect repellent as well, because apparently our yard is a popular destination in the mosquito world.  Thousands come every year, bringing their friends and families with them.

And if I’m going to a restaurant, a medical office, church, or any kind of indoor store, I need to make sure I take a long a jacket or sweater.  Because the people who control the thermostats in those places firmly believe that the hotter it is outside, the colder it must be inside.  Which means that if the heat index is nearing 100 degrees, the optimum temperature inside must be somewhere around 48 degrees.  I can only assume they have unlimited budgets when it comes to paying their utility bills.

DSC00116Still, all things come to an end, and this Summer will be no exception.  Autumn will eventually arrive, followed by Winter and all that it has to offer.  Beautiful snowfalls, cozy sweaters, tasty mugs of hot chocolate, and absolutely no mosquitoes.  I can hardly wait…..

Be Careful What You Wish For

It’s only three days into “official” summer, but already I’m beginning to wonder exactly why I was looking forward to it so much.  Don’t get me wrong:  I’m enjoying the fresh produce, the way it stays light outside until well past 8:00, and the more relaxed pace that summer brings.  What I’m not enjoying is the intense heat and humidity that has arrived and seems to be intent on sticking around, just like an uninvited and obnoxious house guest.  Maybe it’s my age, but I’m not handling the heat nearly as well as I usually do, which means that when I’m finished walking shelter dogs or doing a couple hours of yard work, I’m both cranky and exhausted.  I tend to park myself in front of the nearest air conditioning vent, thinking of all the things I’m supposed to be accomplishing with the rest of my day, and basically deciding that each and every one of them is too much trouble bother with.

Lea and Ann in poolAfter a couple hours of sitting in the cool inside air and wallowing in intense self-pity, I manage to get up and get on with the duties of the day, but even then, everything seems to require much more effort than it normally does.  I think back in wonder to the days of my childhood, when central air-conditioning was a rare thing, and I somehow not only survived the summer, but actually enjoyed it, living in a house that was cooled only by fans and, eventually, a single window AC unit installed in our dining room.  Was I more resilient back then?  Or simply too busy playing with my friends to notice the wilting heat? Those afternoons spent splashing in the little plastic wading pool were rather nice.

I know that eventually, I’ll get used to the heat and humidity….probably the day just before the heatwave breaks.  Until then, I’ll do my best to soldier on.  The shelter dogs need me (and all the other volunteers) to go down to the shelter to make sure the dogs get their share of potty breaks, walks, training, and socialization while they wait for their turn to be adopted.  The flowers and shrubs in our yard need care and watering to make it through the summer , and the weeds are actually thriving in this heat, so putting off yard work until September is simply not an option.

I also have to accept that this might be my “new normal” physically, and that I have reached the age where I no longer adjust to extreme temperatures as well as I used to.  (I have heard there are advantages to aging, but sometimes find that one hard to believe.)  If that’s the case, then I’ll simply adapt, the same way I have adapted to my fading eyesight,  my wrinkled and sagging neckline, and the ache I am beginning to feel in my hips whenever I exert myself a bit too much.  No one ever said growing older was going to be easy, and we all know it’s so much better than the alternative.

Welcome, Summer!

IMG_1315I know the calendar claims that summer doesn’t officially start for another three weeks, but I have always considered summer to be the season that begins with Memorial Day weekend and ends with Labor Day weekend.  And I have always been so very glad when it finally arrives.

When I was a child, nothing beat walking home from the last day of school year, carrying a year’s worth of desk supplies with me and trying to wrap my head around that wondrous fact that I didn’t have to go back to school for weeks.  Summer meant freedom from my school schedule, long days of bike riding and playing with my friends, family barbecues, ice cream and popsicles, and frequent trips to the municipal swimming pool.  What wasn’t to like about all that?

Now that I am decades (many, many decades) past my childhood, summer is still a special treat.  These days, summer means nights spent sitting out on our patio, eating a meal or simply enjoying a glass of wine while the day fades slowly into a comfortably warm night.  It means all of my favorite fruits are in season, so I can enjoy fresh and locally grown strawberries, cherries, watermelon and peaches.  This is the time of year when a simple bacon and tomato sandwich, served with fresh corn on the cob, is more than enough for dinner.

IMG_1318Summer means that my yard is carpeted with lush, green grass and pots of flowers spread color everywhere.  The warm weather means I can happily pack away all my coats, gloves and boots, and dressing to go out usually means nothing more than changing into a dressier pair of sandals. Although most of my regular routine remains the same, there’s something about summer that feels slower, simpler, and more in tune with nature.

Of course I know that it’s early days yet, and that by mid-August, I will probably not be enjoying summer quite so much.  I’ll probably be sick of the flies and misquotes that seem to grow steadily in number as the summer progresses, and that my once lush lawn will be withering a bit, struggling against both the heat and the weeds that invade each and every year.  I’ll be tired of doing so much yard work, of having to water my flower pots almost every day, and of shaving my legs each morning. (I know I could wax them, but I tried that once and it hurt.  A lot.)

I’m sure that when the Labor Day weekend is over, I’ll probably be looking forward to fall, with its cooler evenings and beautiful colors.  There are definite advantages to living in a climate that has four distinct seasons.  But for now, at this particular moment in my life, all I can honestly feel is “welcome, summer!”