It seems to be part of the human condition to complain about the weather. Just a couple of weeks ago, people around here were complaining about it being too cold and rainy. Now the consensus is that it is too darn hot!
After a mild 4th of July where it was a pleasure to be in the sun, we are now dodging it and looking for ways to keep cool either on the lake, under a shady tree, or at the pool.
Northwest Montana’s hot spell has begun. It happens every year. First we wonder if it is going to get warm enough to swim and then, bam! We get hit with desert-like heat for a week or two. Afterwards, if it cools down too much, we will be complaining in the fall that we hardly had a summer to speak of. But at the moment, it is hot as heck and building a snowman sounds rather refreshing.
We live on the historic east side of Kalispell, and air conditioning is not something this old house came with. It did however, come with a basement which is constantly cool and one could retreat to it if the heat becomes exceedingly unbearable. In the meantime, our portable fans blow day and night and the temperature cools down nicely after dark.
Oftentimes in the evening when everyone begins to relax, I lie quietly listening to the hypnotic whir of the fan blades and am taken back to memories of my childhood, and summer in the deep south.
As a child, it was difficult but not impossible to stay cool during a New Orleans summer. Without air conditioning, the humidity was suffocating and almost intolerable. We weren’t allowed to play indoors. And what would be the point? Window fans were but a mere comfort to the soul as they did nothing but circulate hot air around the room. It was preferable to play in the cool dirt under the porches of our shot-gun houses.
Daily thunderstorms were a welcome break from the heat, because they cooled us down and temporarily dropped oppressive temperatures. We could watch steam rising as cold rain fell on hot streets. It felt cool during the storms, almost chilly, but we were left with muggy afternoons as a result.
The stereotypical perception of barefooted Southerners is not quite accurate as sidewalks and streets were too hot to walk on without shoes. Of course there were times when I was barefoot, and I remember the feel of heat softened blacktop under my feet. It felt good. But for the most part, I wore beach thongs or sandals all summer long.
Ice cream and snowballs were a typical way to cool off. All it took was 10 cents to get a brain freeze and relief from a hot summer day. Spearmint was my favorite flavor snowball until I got old enough to be embarrassed by the green stain the icy confection left on my lips and teeth. I then became of fan of nectar, coconut, and chocolate. Soft drinks and Kool-Aid quenched our thirsts.
Visits to the New Orleans lakefront and Pontchartrain Beach also provided respites from the heat in the form of swimming. The breeze blowing off of the lake in the evening was often cooler than expected. My mother always told us to take a sweater to the beach because we would get cold. And she was right.
When air conditioning finally arrived at my house in the mid 60‘s, I thought we were the cat‘s meow. My dad installed a window unit into one of our front rooms and we could finally get comfortable on hot summer nights. My brother and I had a bedtime ritual where we would hold our pillows up to the air conditioner to get them cold. We would then run to our beds with the presumption that the pillows would stay cold all night. It didn’t work, but we slept easier in the air-conditioned room.
When the daydreaming is over, my thoughts return to that of the warm Montana night. The voice in my head complains about the heat even though I swore to myself last month that if we ever got warm weather, my lips would be sealed.
As to the question “Why do people always complain about the weather”, I have some thoughts. Regardless of the season, weather fluctuations, especially extreme, add excitement to the mundane, much as do predictions of the world coming to an end or any other forecast of doom. Another is that people enjoy small talk over discourse, and considering we are all affected by the weather, it becomes an easy topic of conversation. And lastly, I consider yet another idea. Weather intrigues us as do many things for which we have no control.
If you’re hot, sticky, and miserable, click here, scroll down and try out some Frozen Passion.