Hot enough for you?
Recently much of the world broke
historic heat wave records. While
we Montanans chilled with warm
days with hardly any humidity and
cool nights. A few steamy days the
exception - we rarely turn on the air
conditioner to cool off. Even if the
day may hit the nineties - at night
the air is crisp and into the fifties.
Therefore as long as you're willing
to open your mind and windows,
one can keep their cool knowing all
too well that this soon shall pass.
In cities like Dallas or Manhattan, one
easily forgets the benefits of breathing
fresh air. Most city folks live and work
in hermetically sealed spaces. Beyond
their commute said climate controlled
isolation has abolished the communal
camaraderie that was always a part of
summer. In days of yore we all opened
our inner sanctums in order to beat the
heat. Thus for a few months we heard
and saw more of our neighbors than as
we did the balance of the year. Today
few if any live or work out in the open.
Do you hear what I hear?
Here in Montana we still enjoy the
sounds of summer. The tinkling of
ice cubes in a cocktail. The mumble
of your neighbor's television drifting
through a window. Lilting laugher
breaking the sound barrier as friends
dine al fresco. Or over hearing proof
that some are not as happily married
as we thought. In most other climes
many prefer to chill with their peeps
inside rather than face the heat. And
somehow... our wonderful season of
collective intimacy has faded away.
What bugs me?
As a boy, certain sounds signaled the
beginning and end of every summer.
Their symbiotic serenade were always
the perfect accompaniment to a game
of hide and seek at dusk. "Ready or
not - here I come!" For some reason
I never hear crickets in Lewistown
nor do I catch the croak of a frog or
hum of a cicada. That's probably due
to the surrounding rancher's liberal
applications of Roundup. Or maybe
said creatures are naturally not local
phenomena. No matter, I miss them!
Grill n' chill
Remember summer suppers? Whether
due to increased humidity or a brief
lowering of our standards - the hot
weather motivated even my mother
to let her hair down. All of a sudden
societal constraints were loosened.
Rather than traditional fare we dined
on chilled aspics, garden lettuce, ripe
tomatoes stuffed with chicken salad,
burgers off the grill, and huge slices
of watermelon. In essence we lived
like we were on a perpetual vacation.
And as I recall, the living was easy!
A summer place
People of certain circumstances used
to cool their heels far away from the
sweltering city Memorial thru Labor
Day. While Dad toiled at a hot desk,
it was women and children first on
the beach. Every Friday the faithful
hopped a train to join their families.
For others relational rules loosened
along with their girdles. By the end
of each summer everybody returned
back to town a bit wiser and tanner.
And like Tom and Daisy Buchanan,
all was forgotten and... forgiven.
For those who stayed close to home,
one did whatever it took to survive
the summer. Awnings kept the sun's
rays at bay. Furniture was sheathed in
light and floral slip covers to protect
against sweaty residue. Some rolled
up their carpets and replaced them
with sisal mats. During daylight all
windows were closed, curtains drawn.
Post sunset - everything was flung
open so that the house could air out.
Each day said ritual was repeated
until finally, autumn's chill arrived.
Gone but not forgotten
Most of summer's past rituals are
no longer necessary. We now live
non-seasonally. Thus summer no
longer forces us to live differently.
Have all warm weather pleasures
vanished? While not nostalgic for
sweat - I do miss an endless dusk
spent sitting on the stoop catching
fire flies in a jar. The summer of
our discontent is actually still out
there. Why not step beyond your
comfort zone and enjoy what little
time we have left before it snows.