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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

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20,000 leagues under the sun.


We are deep in the dog days now, with temperatures routinely in the triple digits. It's hard to explain to northerners what southern summers are like, and hard for this northern transplant to remember the season as I knew it growing up. My mother calls in July and asks if the boys are playing any sports, and I wonder for a minute if she has taken up drinking in the afternoons, until I adjust for the latitude and realize that my niece and nephew's soccer season has only just begun.

From a psychological standpoint, southern summers are a lot like northern winters, actually. You stay indoors, you hunker down, you endure. The air conditioning service department tells me if our thermostat reads below 78 F, we should shut up and consider ourselves lucky. The kids refuse to go to the pool during the day ("the water is too warm, Mom"), so we swim at night. They watch way too much tv and play way too many video games. I snap at them for being too loud, too rambunctious, too wild. Our mostly outdoor dog has been moved mostly indoors, for safety's sake, for which she repays us daily by peeing and pooping on the floor. We are all stir crazy. I wonder if drinking in the afternoons would be such a bad thing.

Desperation begets resourcefulness. The boys and I spend two days working on a thousand-piece puzzle, excavated from the back of a closet. A friend comes over and lets Patrick and I escape for a couple of hours, sharing a pint of ice cream on the playground swings after dark. Cardboard boxes are repurposed as turtle shells and time machines. My eleven-year-old takes lego-building to a post graduate level, assembling Rube Goldberg-like contraptions with moving parts -- gears, and levers, and rubber bands for drum belts. When our little civilization breaks down again, as it inevitably does, we retreat back to the tv, computers and video game players --virtual excursions that don't require entering a vehicle in which the dashboard thermostat reads 111. It's like living on a submarine. If only we had a pipe organ.



Blogger Stephanie McCratic said...

I feel ya! Even Charlie is getting bored.

9:02 AM  
Blogger what's her bucket said...

I often wonder how anyone can stand the heat and humidity when see the temperatures you must endure in the southeast. I live in Las Vegas and I have often said the same thing. It is too hot to go outside. This is our winter where we hunker down until it gets cooler. The desert sun makes you feel like you might burst into flames sometimes, but it is a DRY heat. Hang in there cooler days are coming. And for what it's worth my boys are playing too many video games, so today we are headed for roller skating at an indoor rink.

9:34 AM  
Blogger island sweet said...

i can't imagine such heat kyran.
yesterday morning i drove past your old house. there was a mother and a little dark-haired girl on the porch. both in their nighties. i thought of you... xxx

10:21 AM  
Blogger Soozietoone said...

These dog days often send us for gelato at Za Zas. The worst thing is the dislike I've come to feel for many of our plants, because they are just too needy and beg to be watered every day.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Gretarenee said...

Just glad it is not just me that is stir-crazy. I am home-bound because of Max and his health problems.

10:46 AM  
Blogger designertheatre said...

Ahhh...sounds grand! As you know, I grew up with that stuff, in Memphis. They too have had a heat wave this summer that makes it higher than even I was used to. Here in NL. I am taking the same approach to the fact that July and August have produced nothing vaguely resembling summer (as I know it) Wanna trade houses for a week or so? I'm game! Iced has always been the answer!

10:51 AM  
Blogger sarabethjones said...

"From a psychological standpoint, southern summers are a lot like northern winters, actually. You stay indoors, you hunker down, you endure."

Never thought of it that way - totally true. This time of year always makes me think of my psych prof telling us that ice cream sales and murder rates rise along parallels...

12:41 PM  
Blogger patsyrose said...

Just for fun, turn into a real southern belle and buy yourself a nifty hand fan. Believe it or not, they work well even in the hottest heat and look darned pretty, too!

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can feel it as I am reading. Lived in NC for a year.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Mrs. G. said...

It's sixty degrees here in Seattle today--I would like just a smidge of your heat. Enjoy these last few weeks! I hope it cools down a bit.

4:54 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

Oh Kyran. Yes. The summers in LR are brutally barbaric and so bloody hot. I must admit how pleased I am to not endure any more walks through a black parking lot with little bits of what feels like hot lava licking my legs and body.

And yes, when we're hunkered down up here in the north, you'll be ambling about in a down vest and long sleeved t, enjoying your December.

10:06 AM  

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