It’s here. Summer in the Southland. At first this may conjure up romanticized visions of sipping iced tea on the porch and catching fireflies in mason jars. There are long lazy afternoons in the hammock and days spent at the lake. Every crossroad has a vegetable stand manned by the farmer’s wife herself selling their wares and homemade peach ice cream is an essential.
And while all of these things seem beautiful and simple they are NOT the true representation of a deep South summer. Not even a little bit. There is only one word that can accurately describe this experience….
While I know so many people have an aversion to that very word I assure you that hearing the word is so much more pleasant than feeling the meaning of it.
It’s only June and already the temperature has reached triple digits- usually something only reserved for the late days of August. Everything is damp with sweat and humidity. It’s the kind of heat that makes the 7th ring of Dante’s inferno look like an Alaskan cruise in January. You are sweating before you even dry off from your shower and you can forget about blow drying your hair. The only option is to pull it up in a knot because we all know what humidity does for a blow out.
It’s the kind of oppressive heat that sucks the breath out of your lungs the moment you open the front door. You drape yourself across the sofa and listen to the droning of the air conditioner outside fighting for it’s life. Despite the AC unit working 24 hours a day and the extra coolant you add every few days your house can’t seem to get below a sweltering 85 degrees.
Sleep becomes restless as you wake wet with sweat-pushing your partner as far away as possible so as to avoid any skin to sticky-skin contact. No matter how much deodorant you apply it’s still never enough and the smell of your own self lingers in your nostrils. I am at the point I am carrying deodorant in my purse for those dreaded days when I have to actually leave the house.
When I do leave the house the asphalt is brutal and you can see the waves of heat rising from the road creating a mirage-like image.
Then the summer thunderstorms come and the temperature drops a swift 20 degrees and the rains come down and for a moment you are relieved. But it’s just a moment. For you see the rains only last a split second. “Popcorn storms” we call them for they appear out of nowhere with torrential downpours and flash flood warnings and then, just as quick as they came, they are gone. And that 20 degree drop in temperature evaporates with the steam off the asphalt. And we are all left in the pressure cooker that is 4pm on a 103 degree day.
So while we may be spending days at the lake and sipping tea (or let’s be honest- ice cold beer) on the porch there is really no choice but to accept that for the next three (maybe four) months this is our state of being. I will make the best of the summer while simmering in my own moistness and slurping melty drinks that even a Yeti koozie can’t keep cool.
I’ve spent my whole life here- I know I will survive. I also know that in late September (maybe October) when the temperature drops to 80 degrees I will pull out my sweatshirt and Uggs and complain about how cold it is. So I raise my lukewarm beer to toast another summer in the Southland.