Published in the Rains County Leader on June 22, 2021:
It’s summer in Texas which means one thing above all others – it’s HOT!
Many conversations begin with “It’s so hot that…” followed by some tall tale that has been passed down for generations. When I was a kid, the big claim about hot weather was that you could fry an egg on the sidewalk. I remember one ambitions reporter who tried it without much success, but I have friends who claim to have baked brownies or cookies by placing a pan of dough on the dashboard of a closed car parked in the sun.
Summer in Texas is the time when closed cars really do become solar ovens on wheels. Sunglasses left inside can leave permanent scars on the bridge of a nose, and the wise driver doesn’t touch a door handle or steering wheel without protection. The same can be said for sitting on vinyl or leather seats while wearing shorts. It’s also a good idea to stand back as the door is opened because the blast of hot air might singe eyebrows and eyelashes.
July and August are the months during which water bills soar from watering lawns, flower beds, and gardens and from filling wading pools for children, grandchildren, and fur babies. We never had a swimming or wading pool, but we often played in the sprinklers or just squirted each other with the hose. I also tried more than once to fill up the huge cracks that appeared in our yard during the drought in the late 1950s. I never managed to fill any of them, and now I wonder how Daddy managed to pay our water bills.
Indoor Texas pets are as reluctant to go out into triple digit temperature as they are when it snows or even when it rains. I once had an old cocker spaniel who didn’t really enjoy walking in the best of conditions, but when the temperature began to climb, he hated it. He watched for spots where sprinklers were watering the sidewalks and laid down on the wet spot with all four legs stretched out so his tummy could enjoy the full effect of the wet cement. It’s a good thing he wasn’t a Saint Bernard because I often had to carry him home.
I’ve always heard the really hot part of the summer referred to as the dog days. I had a vague idea of what that meant – that it was hot – but I didn’t know specifically. Wikipedia agrees with my definition – hot – but it adds a bit more. There’s something related to astrology that I didn’t understand, but I understood the part that said it’s connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck. The official dog days of summer for 2021 are July 3 through August 11. As those days approach with threatened brownouts and power outages, the powers that be have asked us to conserve by keeping our thermostats at 78 or above. If 78 is still too hot for comfort, do what we did before we had home air conditioning. In the hottest part of the day, strip down to your underwear, lie down under the ceiling fan, and take a nap. Of course, if you’re not retired like David and I, your boss might frown on that method, so you might have to settle for a big glass of ice cold sweet tea.