Thursday, June 19, 2008

When You're Hot, You're Hot

It's summer folks. Now, I'm not complaining. It's just hot, that's all. Our skies have been a beautiful blue with an occasional cloud to temporarily make the oven like effects of the sun seem bareable. I was born and raised in the South; south Mississippi, Puerto Rico, south Florida, south Alabama, and all of these places were hot and humid. I lived my entire life in these climes. We did venture north to Oklahoma City for a year and did four years in Fort Smith, Arkansas, but for the most part it was always hot in the summer. As you can see from the little inset map in the upper left hand corner, I'm about as far south as one can go and still be in the United States. I should not expect anything but hot. As a kid, I never seemed to notice hot. I could play at full steam all day and never complain. I think it was the beginning of high school football practice in south Florida when I first realized how hot one could get. Two-a-day practice sessions in full uniform at the end of August made me think that death was a real possibility. As an young adult, I got this same feeling working on a siesmograph crew in south Mississippi, and later an oil field service crew when I was in my mid thirties. But, I survived and after a few hours rest and a good meal, I was ready to go again.

Yesterday, the actual temperature was so close to 100 degrees it didn't pay to argue either way. The heat index, which factors in the humidity, was 105. I fired my yard crew two weeks ago, so I have been doing my own mowing for about two weeks now. In fact, for most of my life I did yard work for myself and others with no ill effects. I was in pretty fair physical shape during my career, but after retirement I put on a few extra pounds. I was living in Austin, Texas several years ago (when I was in my late fifties) and I decided to go and do my yard work one summer morning when the summer temps were mid 90's early. I finished my yard at about noon, and since my neighbor was on vacation, I decided to do his too. I got about halfway through and noticed I was having trouble keeping up with my self propelled push mower, and I just couldn't get a good breath (I thought I was back in two-a-day practices). I stopped and cooled down, the actual temperature was 106 degrees. I finished the job by doing repeated cooling down sessions, but I decided to go and get my heart checked out. The resultant stress test showed that my heart was in great shape. The doctor found out what had caused my concern and told me that fat boys my age should not do yard work in such extreme heat. Now that I'm over sixty, I am reduced to doing a couple of hours at a time in my bathing suit and then going directly to the pool for a nice thirty minute cool down before retiring to the air conditioned safe zone. I will fire up the old Toro as soon as the dew dries this morning and try to finish before the mower housing melts.

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward. -
Kurt Vonnegut