August Hot

August hot is unrelenting. There is no remission. It never, no never, not ever, cools off. Nighttime lows tend to be over 75 degrees. By the time it cools off to something under 85, it’s midnight. You have to get up and go outside at least an hour before actual daylight to do any real outdoor work. It’s 88 degrees by 8:30am. By 10 am everyone who’s livelihood does not depend on their presence outside has removed themselves to the air-conditioning. Even the animals go into hiding. The dogs that fill the yard where I work (only 4 of them, but they are large) disappear under the house. Last week I saw 2 of them, on separate occasions, for about 30 seconds each. The goats only came up out of the woods once.Those poor souls who must remain outside to earn their living have retreated to some shady place and draped themselves over a cooler of Gatorade. No one’s boss expects them to do anything out there except try not to die. I once told my sister that anyone with sense tried to get away from where I live during the last month of true summer.
 Despite this, or maybe because of it, the south is not rife with expressions about the heat. That one about it being “hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk”? That’s for yankees. Southerners are not about to be outside fooling around with a bunch of eggs. Especially not trying to fry them on the sidewalk, knowing you’re not going to scrape them up and eat them or anything. Only crazy people would be doing that. Southerners are inside with the a/c turned up, reclining under the ceiling fan, drinking something iced. Down here the only thing you are likely to hear is, “WhoooEEEE, it’s HOT!” said by someone as they come back inside to lounge under the ceiling fan, “yep” is the standard reply. I think the theory is that talking about it just produces more hot air. Hot air never cooled anyone off. At least not hot air moving at a merely conversational speed.
 The world seems to be about evenly split between those who must know what the thermometer says and those who would really rather not. I belong to the latter camp. It never seems to make me feel any cooler to know exactly how high the mercury has risen and it frequently makes me feel worse. For some reason my brain never imagines it is much over 90, and 95 seems to be the limit of my imagination. So when someone informs me that it is, in fact, 102 degrees with a heat index of 107, I am suddenly 12 degrees hotter than I was before. It isn’t helpful. The people who seek that information usually claim to be waiting until the temperature reaches “x” to perform some activity, however, the number selected for “x” seems designed to preclude said activity until the middle of the night, by which time the seeker will be safely asleep under the ceiling fan, with the a/c cranked up to “frostbite”.
 Those of us that don’t plan our activities around arbitrary numbers know that if you must do stuff outside, early is best. For example, I go outside in the morning, about 6:30 (I have a friend that does this at 5:30, but I just can’t make it then) in the morning and water my plants. If any weeding happens, it happens then. Mostly weeding is judged to be something that can wait until a later date. If, for some reason (like pure, unadulterated laziness) I did not get up at 6:30 am, I will venture out in the evening dusk, half and hour before full dark, covered in bug spray, and perform the duties I neglected earlier in the day. I’m pretty sure that this activity pattern is where the idea, so common in literature, of the “sleepy, southern town, baking in the noonday sun, nothing moving but one yellow dog laying in the middle of the street” was born. Neither the dog nor the writer were from anywhere around here, or the dog would’ve been under the house and the writer would’ve been inside under the ceiling fan with everyone else, having done all the necessary chores before the sun got up.


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