Heat makes it a challenge to enjoy summer

07/21/2011 12:00 AM

09/13/2011 2:00 PM

We stare at the weekly forecast with mouths agape. Day after blistering day of flaming suns and century-mark temperatures line up on the screen like a perfect pull on a Las Vegas slot machine.


You lose.

It's hot.

The kids are cranky. Jack wants to ride his bike because he's just starting to explore the neighborhood on his own, and you can't keep a boy inside once he discovers that kind of freedom.

But it's so hot. Even he admits it, sweat dripping down from his helmet and stinging his eyes.

"Look at my sweat," he announces upon returning, more exhausted than proud, combing damp fingers through soaking wet hair. "I tried to go fast to make my own wind, but..."

But nothing helps, I nod.

It's hot.

Blast-furnace hot. And though we know it's just another Kansas summer, this time it feels like the city might actually burst into flames.

At the pool we can barely walk from our chairs to the water because the pavement sizzles. We do the dance of the fire walkers, heel-toes-heel-heel-toes-heel-heel-ouch-ouch-ouch, and jump in.

Ahhhhh. But it's so hot that unless we're totally submerged, we're still sweating. How is that even possible, sweating while you're standing in a pool?

We try all our best hot-weather tricks: retreating to the basement, eating watermelon, slurping ice cream cones, watching movies, napping directly in front of the fan. We consider more drastic measures, maybe freezing our underwear or shaving our heads.

Even the flowers and tomatoes can't stand it. The only things thriving are under the ground, beets and onions and potatoes. Leaves float through the air in a premature autumn, as if the trees just sighed, threw up their branches and said, "That's it. We're done."

It's hot.

So hot. It's all anyone can seem to talk or tweet or Facebook about. Phone conversations with Colorado relatives follow the same script:

"It's beautiful here. Chilly in the evenings. How's the weather there?"

"Still hot." Frown, grumble.

My daughter thought it might be nice to remember winter, when we complained about the cold. We flipped through photos of a spring break ski trip, but that just made us crankier, looking at all those hats and gloves.

What helps more than anything is slowing down. I think about the sleeping porches lined up on balconies in Charleston, S.C., how families would gather behind the screens every evening. I imagine them like us, except generations away from the luxury of air-conditioning, cursing the heat, fanning themselves and praying for a breeze off the water.

I pour another glass of tea and shuffle the cards. Summer nights mean games of Phase 10 or Apples to Apples around the kitchen table, laughing at how the dogs lie sideways on the tile, wondering if this heat will ever subside.

It will, I say. So we better enjoy it while we can.


About Suzanne Tobias

Suzanne writes about family life on Thursdays. She has covered local news for The Eagle since 1990. Suzanne is a native of North Carolina and earned an English degree from North Carolina State University.

Find her on Twitter: @suzannetobias

Contact Suzanne at 316-268-6567 or by emailing her at stobias@wichitaeagle.com

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