Saturday, July 21, 2018

Blistering Heat

So we’re in the middle of another Texas heatwave. They come along every few years when conditions are just right. 110+ degree temperatures and it can get dangerous. I remember the historic 1980 heatwave that went on for weeks. The last one in these parts was 2011. And it lasted awhile. But we didn’t get over 110. This one won’t last long. Folks who moved to North Texas and have only gone through a couple of summers are getting a real taste of just how bad it can be. Those of us who grew up here know that it just comes with the territory.

As a boy, I spent a good part of my summers with my grandparents on their farm down in Hood County. It was a great place and I loved going there. But, they did NOT have air-conditioning. Their house was on an elevation and got a good breeze, but not that good. Not when it was a 105 during the day and still 90+ inside the house at bedtime. My grandparents had a sleeping porch that was screened all-around and it wasn’t too bad there. I had the option of sweating in my bed, moving to their sleeping porch and bedding down on the floor listening to Papaw’s snoring or sleeping outside. I always opted for outside.

They had an old metal bed frame in the backyard with a bare mattress spring on it. (You might be a redneck if___). We’d cover it with a quilt and I’d go out there and sleep. The bed was under a chinaberry tree, but you could still look up and see the stars. There was usually a breeze and by morning I’d be rolled up in the quilt when the chickens and cows started their wake-up calls. Sometimes I’d wake up with little blisters on a leg or arm where gray blister beetles had visited me during the night. That sounds pretty creepy now, but back then it was no big deal. Just the price you paid for a good night’s sleep.

One of my uncles lived down the road from Papaw’s place and he didn’t have air-conditioning either. I’d stay there sometimes with my cousins, but if it was really hot I made sure to go back to Papaw’s before bedtime so I could sleep outside. I can still hear my uncle giving his opinion on air-conditioning. He theorized that it made people soft and unable to handle the heat. For folks who had to work outside most of the time, he believed that you were just better off to avoid air-conditioning all together. He finally relented in his old age and got an air-conditioner. He admitted that it was really nice, but still thought that folks who worked out in the heat should stay away from it.

I try to remain somewhat heat resistant. I spend a lot of time outside and I can tolerate the heat pretty well. But I couldn’t do it all day, every day. Now I live in a big stone house with central heat and air. At night I turn it down to 68 degrees and turn on the ceiling fan above my bed. I sleep under a blanket year round. I can’t look up and see the stars. And, I don’t wake up to the sound of chickens and cows and the fresh smell of a country morning. But, I don’t have blisters either. Texas summers just aren’t what they used to be. And, that’s ok with me.

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