Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

C: Summertime

heat wave I am born and raised in the South.  So why is it that the hot summers always seem to take me by surprise? 

Can you believe it is so hot?!” I’ll say to someone…well, yes, it gets hot here like this each and every year, Dodo. 

In my defense I must say that others make the same comments to me.  It’s just a way of making conversation, I guess, and the heat is main topic right now.  My little car registered 106 coming home yesterday, and it’s not going to let up through the rest of the week.  As I write this at 4 am, it is 86 degrees, and my computer forecast says 106 again today…

V and I were talking about growing up in Arkansas in the 50’s when no one had air conditioning, not even in the car. Ooooooh, I remembecar window downr my bare sweaty legs sticking to the car seats and driving with the windows rolled  down, glad for the warm air moving through the car.  We would fight for a “window seat” so we could lean into the air (kind of like this dog in the picture!)…these were the days before seat belts and car seats.  (Can you even imagine a car seat without air conditioning???).

V and I both remember uncomfortable nights with the attic fan whirrring.  Sometimes my mother would put a box fan in the open window (all windows were  open at night or you would suffocate) and the night air would be pulled across our bed, giving us some relief, letting in the night sounds we now miss, too.  There were some nights that warranted a wet wash cloth to cool the face.

I knew families in old-style houses who still used “sleeping porches” when I was a child.  These were screened-in porches where beds or cots would be placesleeping porch copyd so that the family could escape some of the heat at night, especially from upstairs bedrooms.  One of my good friends’ home was a huge two-story house with most of the sleep space upstairs—which became stifling.  Their sleeping porch was expansive, holding five or six  twin sized beds turned here and there.  It was screened on all sides and at night felt positively refreshing.  The only problem was the grandaddy long legs who lived there, as well.  Those and the mosquitoes.  To be truthful, we lived in peaceful (although creepy) co-existence with the long-legs—the mosquitoes, however, were a different story.

Mosquitoes were a fact of summer nights back then.  We all had screens on the windows but, I swear, those pests would find every little hole.  Most nights we would hear the whine of a mosquito buzzing around until she found some exposed skin to pierce.  Miserable. 

I would have to say that the prevalence of air conditioning has revolutionized life.  I read somewhere that it was a turning point in the growth of Atlanta for big business.  No doubt.  Who would intentionally expose oneself to that heat and humidity when you could locate your business in a more temperate clime?  Oh, I know that even the northern states have their share of hot days, but here in the South they stretch across a good bit of the summer.

My two animals (cat and dog) are outside all day.  Chili has to wait until I get home to get to his air conditioner.  Sasha, the cat, is outside all the time.  I have noticed that they both take refuge deep under our porches where it is at least cooler.  We take care to keep fresh water out for them.

I work in the downtown area where we see the homeless pacing the streets, and I feel for them.  I know that there are respite shelters for them to have some cool, and I am thankful for the folks who provide that.

witch cartoon

You know, I have to say that part of my awareness of the extremes of  weather is age, surely.  Although V and I swap memories of the hot, summer nights, I do not recall our playing stopping for the heat.  We played hard through the summer—barefooted.  My mother was careful to make me come in for an afternoon rest under the fan (V was a late riser and, therefore, not a napper), but other than that, summer time was full-tilt fun for us.

We romped around the yard on our stickhorses, finding shade when we got a little hot.  And, of course, the tinkling music of the snowcone man’s truck would bring us to action, scrambling to get our quarters so that we could make a purchase.  We had our own personal water jars in the refrigerators.  Our mothers kept them full and they were ice cold, waiting on us to come in for a swig, straight from the jar.  I remember that when my water jar was an old pickle jar, it never quite lost the pickle smell/taste, which I did not mind at all.  Now kids get their cold water from refrigerator doors!  Not quite the same…nostalgia taking over, here…

So, my memories of summer as a child don’t usually focus on stifling heat, but rather these things:

  • Kool-aid sipped from metal tumblers that felt ice-cold tosprinkler the hands;
  • Playing in the sprinkler.  For some reason, V and I called this “shower baths”;
  • Crisp slices of ice-cold watermelon on picnic tables at the local “watermelon stand” where people would gather on summer nights to buy melon and trade news of the day;
  • The comfort of the sound of the attic fan—bygone now for most of us but a great comfort at night.

Hope you are able to stay cool…watch out for your animals.  C


ain't for city gals said...

Your childhood sounds like alot like mine..fun! We moved to Calif when I was five but EVERY year we would make the trek back to Kansas...during the summer, of course! Nobody had AC then...but I don't remember it being so bad either. One thing about Az...we have the heat but we don't really have mosquitoes ...every time I go somewhere that has them I think "Oh, I can't handle this"!..lol...lots of memories ...

Vee said...

Believe it or not, the AC is very important to us, too, on those miserably hot, humid days that we are not so used to. One day in the 70s, the next in the 90s. Nope. We don't do well. I recently read that there's a move on by the green folks to get AC eliminated as it's sucking up too much energy. Nuts to the green people.

I enjoyed reading your rememberies. We certainly didn't have summer heat as bad as you, but I do love the whirr of a fan in an upstairs window even today.

Kathleen From Eggs In My Pocket said...

Oh, my, my..........what memories you stirred up for me today! Yes, it is so hot. I hope you and V stay cool! blessings,Kathleen

Happyone : ) said...

We are having one of those very hot summers here in Maryland where it reached 106!

As a kid a remember complaining to my mom that I couldn't sleep. Her remedy was to just lie still. That just didn't work! : )

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Since our little tract houses did NOT have sleeping porches or air conditioning, I remember nights too hot to sleep. I'd get up and splash myself with cold water just to get relief! Earlier this summer our air conditioning went out and I had a taste of what it was like years ago--BAD! You know our heat index yesterday registered 119--and today will be 120! Oh, for some cooling rain!
Cowgirl V

kath001 said...

The house I grew up in was built around 1910. Lots of large windows, almost floor to ceiling...rooms that had doors in every interior wall for cross ventilation...and an attic fan that took up a large part of the hallway ceiling. I guess it couldn't have been original to house in 1910, but one of my favorite features in memory. It had to be kept covered in the wintertime so the heat wouldn't escape...but in the summertime when the cover came off and it was turned on, it pulled wonderful fresh air in through all those big windows. I think it was an ingenius invention. Today's building methods may make sense...until the a/c goes on the blink...then they are sweat boxes, objects of torture.

A bird in the hand said...

I had the same kind of childhood. I don't remember suffering... yet now I can't take the heat without AC or at least a high-powered fan blowing right at me.

Anonymous said...

Es la idea buena. Le mantengo.

Vickie said...

This Texas girl remembers alot of those same things. My momma made koolaid popsicles with some forms she got from the Tupperware lady. We didn't stop playing either and would come in in the evenings smelling like sweaty dirty dogs. I miss the attic fans. I LOVED sleeping under an open window with that attic fan humming all night.

My car temp yesterday afternoon was 109 - and that was after it cooled off! It was 120 when I got in!

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

This blog is hilarious! Loved this post. Although I grew up in the 60s and 70s when a/c was fairly common, I do remember going to my grandparent's aircondition-less home and standing in front of the big box fan, talking into it so my voice would sound chopped up.

I heard that a/c killed neighborhoods. Once that came along no one wanted to sit outside battling the heat and insects.

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tn

We keep our air set soooooooo high that I won't admit how high -- just enough to knock the edge off and wear as skimpy as clothing as we can get by with. Our old house is two story and the bill is already high but we use fans also. But the cars....I can remember going to Al in the summers, 8 hr drive, no air ....with my asthma now , no way. We are due to go back to Al asap to check on mother in law after the April tornado but we waiting for the "heat to breat"...we just have a trap of a car and I think it's more dangerous to break down in HOT weather than the south's winter weather..LOL. I remember my cousin's mother always made Gallons and Gallons of grape koolaid with sliced lemons. Mother made SWEET tea , cooked loose with a tea strainer. I , on the other hand, have just learned how to make tea in the microwave at the ripe of ol' age of 62!!! Love the memoires you invoke.

tupperware said...

great article. well done

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