Rural Living

The Heat of the Moment

No Safe Haven in the Hills

by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Writer

Margo Oxendine

There’s only one thing on my mind right now, and my guess is, we all share the thought.

It is sweltering! The heat is oppressive, excessive, downright overwhelming at times.

I write this in July. We have endured at least a month of baking summer heat. The grass is brown and dead. There is an advantage to this: I don’t have to pay the lawn-mower guy, and I don’t have to water it. I dislike watering. Next summer, I will plant nothing but cacti in my so-called gardens.

Now, it is August. My only hope is that, perhaps, if we’re very lucky, the temperatures have plummeted into the 80s. Never did I think I would write that sentence. Never did I think I would look at the outside thermometer and say to myself, “Great! It’s only 87 degrees!” I have. I would like to do it again.

Last night, I drove home from a jaunt at 8:45 p.m., and it was 92 danged degrees outside. Cripes! What’s up with that?

There’s only one more bright side to the heat, that I can think of: Laundry may be hung outside on the line with absolutely no fear that it will get wet from the rain. In fact, much of it will dry in less time than it would take to run it through the dryer. Whoopee. Trouble is, it is too hot to even warrant trudging out to the clothesline with a basket full of wet clothes. Nonetheless, I will do it. Today. Sometime. Maybe.

Last night, I watched the weather forecast and discovered it is 15 degrees cooler in Florida than it is in Virginia. And Virginia is 15 degrees cooler than Baltimore. I love Baltimore, but I could not be paid to go there right now. It would not matter if I had box seats to an Orioles game, a backstage pass to a Jimmy Buffett concert, and a free-dinner coupon to the world’s best crab house.

I do not have air conditioning. Heck; I live in the cool mountains of Virginia. Why would I need air conditioning? Why, indeed. Between the hours of 2 and 7:30 p.m., this place is a stifling hot box, despite ceiling fans whirling dervishly in every room. I am seriously considering turning my daily schedule upside down: Sleeping from 12:30 in the afternoon until 7:30 at night. I am afraid, though, that it wouldn’t make much difference.

A fellow in Boston has done something similar. He has a window-cleaning service, cleverly called “Cliffhangers.” He goes to work at 3:45 a.m., and calls it a day at noon. Smart guy.

I have proclaimed time and again, “I hate summer!” Give me that four feet of snow we had last winter. Give me those sub-zero temperatures I may have, misguidedly, complained about in February. At least, give me fall!

Although I am loathe to venture outside, I find myself coming up with reasons to hop in the car and drive somewhere in the most-blazing part of the afternoon. Why? Well, the car is air-conditioned. Trouble is, Brownie and I have to step out of it eventually.

Poor little Brownie. She will examine her food dish throughout the day — making sure it is still there, I guess. But, she refuses to eat until 10 o’clock at night. Then, she snarfs it down and begs for more. The rest of the day, she’s either sleeping, or sighing. Much like myself.

My gourmet dinners are out the window until, perhaps, October. A meal these days is either cereal, cottage cheese, fruit, canned tuna, or ice cream. Yes, I often have an ice cream dinner. And I should not forget that old standby, the peanut butter sandwich. I have reverted to early childhood, as far as my eating habits go. I refuse, however, to “go outside and play.”

I was sort of happy to read that the animals in the National Zoo in D.C. are comfortable. They have access to air conditioning, a spokeswoman noted. Well, aren’t they the lucky ones. According to her, the zoo’s famed pandas “are not big fans of the heat.” I hear that! She adds, “They prefer to stay indoors and sleep a lot.”

I never knew I had so much in common with pandas.


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