I’m not one to complain about heat. I lived in Oklahoma for 12 years, where heat indices of 103 are de rigueur. It’s a real privilege to complain about a 94 degree day with a cool breeze, in my opinion. I want to talk about how we can get perspective on our solstice sweat, and how to ride the heat wave into a wonderful summer.
My friends, it gets hot in the summer. So I just don’t see a purpose in getting angry about it, or trying to avoid it. Really, the best thing to do is get into it.
As with many things — swimming in a cold lake, childbirth, writing an essay that feels like it’s going nowhere — the way out is the way through. We may grit our teeth at the prospect of four more weeks of this heat. We may despise how trapped we feel and how annoying our kids are becoming. We are angry and want to run away. But that will not change the weather. This is the absurdity of our summer condition. We must imagine ourselves happy in the heat. Here are my top 10 ways to embrace the heat:
1. Wear less clothing
“No !*&%, Sherlock!” you’re saying, but seriously, this is a common mistake. When I lived in Oklahoma, I packed away everything that went past my knee or elbows. I lived in skirts, shorts, and tank tops. Are you wearing jeans right now? Did you layer your shirts? Were you foolish enough to put on close-toed shoes? Amateurs! Change into something else and see what a difference it makes.
2. Put a fan on your porch
Moving air makes all the difference, even if you’re in direct sun. If you have a covered porch with an outlet, plug in an industrial fan and sit outside. You’ll get used to the heat. I’m outside right now, on a covered porch with ceiling fans, and it’s 90 degrees. I feel completely comfortable.
3. Get up earlier
During my last summer in Oklahoma, I got up at 6am every day and immediately went for a walk. Play or garden before breakfast instead of after breakfast. Get your outdoors fix in before Ellen (or, if you’re a NPR hipster nerd like myself, before On Point).
4. Get wet
I bought a swimsuit last week for the first time in six years, and it’s amazing how much cooler you feel when you’re actually playing in the fountain or swimming in the pool instead of sweltering alongside it. Get your suit on, set up your hose or sprinkler or mister or sink sprayer, and get wet. Suddenly 95 feels comfy.
5. Listen to music really loud
It feels more like an awesome montage in a summer camp movie if you are blasting Panama by Van Halen then if you’re listening to the news.
6. Drive with the windows open
Create a breeze. According to the Car Talk guys, the drag created by open windows is probably as energy inefficient as using your AC, anyway. Combine #5 and #6 and you’re halfway to a brilliant and beautiful summer memory.
7. Nap in the sun
Lather up with sunscreen and try do this during off-peak hours. Then you’ll see why cats like it so much, and, bonus, you’ll feel absolutely frigid when you go in the shade or AC.
8. Get yourself on a boat
How long has it been since you went on a boat ride? Did you forget that boats are awesome? I don’t care how much of a city mouse you are, flying across any lake — even a dirty, syringe-filled lake — feels incredible.
9. Two words: ICED. TEA.
It doesn’t even have to be sun tea, although that is obviously the best kind. We get cold brew bags and stuff our mason jars full of chipped ice and mint leaves or lemon wedges.
It’s on sale. Buy as much of it as you can fit in your trunk and eat it all, tonight. Make your whole meal out of fruit. Bonus points for super cold and refreshing citrus fruits like grapefruit and oranges. I rarely bought fresh fruit when I was a swinging young working single non-parent, but this is the time to take a gamble on a flat of strawberries and challenge yourself to use it all up.
There you go. I bet you are feeling better already.