My official marker of the summer heat is when you are wetter out of the pool than when you are in the pool. Such has been this summer, but I’m certain there have been other summers just as hot. Or at least that’s what I’ve heard the old-timers say.
Pappa Joe Alford was one of the oldest old-timers I’ve ever met. He was here, in the Panhandle of Florida that is, before there were roads, bridges, and even before running water and electricity. I heard him say on more than one occasion that this is the hottest summer ever, and that was in the 1970s. His cohort in crime, Horace Rogers, agreed with him most of the time, but there were occasions when they would get in to a bit of a shouting match about who remembered what correctly. Those “discussions” always ended in a draw.
I hear the same thing today from long time residents and a few “newbies” who don’t know any better. I can say with pretty good accuracy that it had indeed been a hot summer. As to whether it is the hottest summer ever, well, I tend to leave the record keeping to those best suited for the task, meaning, those who give a damn about the details. Details don’t matter when you are dripping wet before you get in to the shower.
I know that people all over the country are crying it’s hot, but you haven’t experienced hot until you’ve been hot in the South. There is something about temperatures over 100 and humidity over 100. Put them together and southern hospitality is put to a true test. When you walk outside at 4 in the morning and feel like you’ve been hit by a wet mop, well, that’s hot to me. But how do we really know when it’s hot?
The old-timers use things such as insects, trees, and the wind to determine just how hot this current heat spell is in comparison with other heat spells of the past. All over the South, people use different ways to measure the heat. Here are my top 10 ways to tell if it’s really hot in the South.
1) The calories are burned out of the food before you eat it.
2) You take a shower to dry off.
3) The water in your swimming pool is simmering and you are using blocks of ice the size of a mini-van to cool the water off just so you can tolerate it.
4) The plants on your porch have sent you notes asking for a continuous sprinkler system.
5) Your garden hose has melted leaving a puddle of gooey rubber in your yard.
6) Sun tea can be made before the sun rises.
7) You can only retrieve your mail from the box between midnight and 3 a.m., otherwise you get blisters on your fingers.
8) Your grill does not require charcoal for cooking. You simply place the items on the grill and leave the cover open.
9) Fish are begging to be caught and fried just so they can cool down.
10) Hoot owls no longer say hoot all night long. They are now screaming “hot as hell” all night and all day.
So if you think it’s hot where you are, I invite down south for a bit. I think you’ll change your mind as to what is really hot.
From the life and mind of:
Wanda M. Argersinger
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