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Heat Waves, School Supplies and Bears, Oh My!

Cool weather, grizzlies and men all needed in Southwest Virginia

September 2023

by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Columnist

I don’t know what to write about this month. It’s September and we have all just endured the hottest summer ever. As has the rest of the world.

Here in rural Southwest Virginia, I have tried not to complain much about the heat. Not when I see it may be 84 here, but 118 elsewhere in our country. Also, here we haven’t been hit with tornadoes or, say, 8 inches of pouring rain in an hour. So really, I should have no complaints at all about the heat. And yet, I do.

At least the way my house is situated, it is cool inside most of the time. That’s not so great in the dead of winter, but boy, has it been nice this summer. I don’t have an air conditioner. Well, I do, but for me it requires the help of a man to lift it and insert it in the window. As I’ve said before, I keep waiting for a man to stop by, but that doesn’t ever seem to happen.

I guess that’s a good thing since if I’m at home in summer, I am usually in my pajamas. I have lots and lots of pajamas, and they are the coolest clothes I have, in every way but the fashion sense. And who needs to be fashionable at home? Especially if no man is stopping by?

I am really glad to have ceiling fans in almost every room though, and a small fan on my screened porch. I make do with those, and my cool pajamas. (By the way, I don’t wear the same pair day and night. There’s no better feeling than a fresh pair of pajamas after a cool shower.)

I’ve found that if I don’t take my walk by 10 a.m., I do well to wait until 7:30 p.m. It’s still hot then, but at least the infernal sun isn’t baking down on me at that hour.

Of course, the wildlife thinks the same way. It’s about dusk when the bears and the deer also begin to venture out of the woods. I keep looking and looking, but I have not spotted one bear in more than a year. Where the heck are they? And do I honestly really want to encounter them?

The other thing I was musing about writing this month is the whole “back to school” buzz. I discovered this in Walmart last week, when  mother after mother pushed past me with carts heaped with notebooks, pens, crayons, markers, glue sticks and reams of lined paper. If I read the list of necessary school supplies in the newspaper correctly, it even includes Kleenex Wet Wipes and a change of clothing. Geez! No wonder these kids are weighed down with backpacks that seem to weigh as much as the children wearing them.

I understand that many teachers, tired of begging for supplies from school boards, simply throw up their hands and decide to buy the supplies themselves. That is a darn shame. But, as we all know, teachers are dedicated souls who care very much about their students. Sadly, they  now have to foot the bill. It’s especially sad considering the comparatively paltry salaries they’re paid. Go, teachers! I’ve loved many of you over the years! Thank you for caring!

Now … I only hope the local schools are air-conditioned.

To order a copy of Margo’s “A Party of One,” call 540-468-2147 Mon.-Wed., 9 a.m.-5 p.m., or email [email protected].