..and it burns, burns, burns–the ring of fire, the ring of fire
Ah, summer. Who doesn’t love it? Days spent outside, discovering secluded swimming holes, leisurely going about hobbies and soaking up the sun. Sounds pretty fantastic. Except in Texas, my days are spent seeking out air conditioning, trying to stay hydrated and most importantly- avoiding the sun.
I used to enjoy summers full of carefree days, stormy nights and plenty of outdoor adventures. Granted, those were spent on the east coast. Now, I’m not saying that these things do not exist in Texas, but it’s been my experience –as a northerner– that summers here are drastically different.
Summers in Texas (TX) are like taking up residence on the surface of Mercury, the closest planet to our sun. Case in point- a few summers back, we had 67 DAYS above 100F/38C. That year, adverts and billboards begging people to ‘donate a fan – save a life’ were constant. As someone relatively new to the TX scene, this made my new home seem even more foreign.
During that same summer, a friend came to visit me in TX. While planning, we had a discussion in which I probably came across as a crazy person with how much I cautioned her about the TX summer and sun. She laughed it off and told me that the temperatures where she and I lived were the same and so she’d be fine. I bit my lip, not wanting to push things further into ‘awkward’ territory. Being outdoors-y people, we had arranged a hike in one of the state parks. It was a beautiful day – clear blue skies and a slight breeze tickling us as we ambled along the pathways.
After a while, we came to a clearing of an ancient (but now dry) riverbed. We made our way over the smooth rocks with the sun beating down upon us. Twenty minutes into it, she sat down – burning her leg on the surface of a rock – cursed and out of nowhere wailed, “OMG – you were right! It IS the sun! It’s…brutal!” We rallied ourselves to carry on to the tree line and once there, took a looooooong break to rehydrate and wonder about such things as the surface of the sun and the hardiness of plants and animals surviving in the area.
Now, having lived in TX for 7 (!!!!!!!) years, I’ve grown accustomed to the summer heat. This is not to say that I’ve accepted it – I still whine and complain – but I can endure. I’ve adapted. However, I constantly endeavor to spend more time outdoors here in TX. During the rest of the year, this isn’t such an issue. Yet, when summer arrives, the heat, sun and unstructured days – which is a story for another time – inevitably compel me to spend wayyyyyy too much time indoors (where the delicious air conditioning lives).
This particular summer has been a bit of an abnormality though. My husband sent me to Scotland for a month to refuel my soul after a trying year and to shield me from the TX sun. This is love. Then, I was able to spend nearly two weeks with family in the North Country (upstate New York) before making my way back home to TX. In addition, my husband and I recently purchased our first house together and there have been plenty of home improvement projects to keep me busy this summer. Still, being back in TX is tough. It’s just too hot to do anything even though I do try. That being said, planned escapes to cooler climates, shifting to life as a morning person and hobbies like gardening have strengthened my resolve, and I look forward to sharing more about these experiences in future posts.
Signing off, here are my six succinct ways of surviving summer in TX (and yes, I’m aware of the ridiculous amount of alliteration in this phrase):
1. Wear clothing of natural fibers; always check the tag before buying. Believe me, polyester is NOT your friend.
2. Drink lots of water and always have a bottle on hand; glass is best since plastic reacts in an alarmingly toxic way to the heat.
3. Always wear sunglasses, even in the shade; you only get one pair of eyes- protect them.
4. If you have ANYTHING to do outside, wake up and get it done before the heat sets in. My neighbor mows his lawn at 7am, which can be a buzzkill to sleeping in but I understand.
5. Sunscreen – don’t risk it, just do it. Your outdoor errand will always take longer than you anticipated and your tan = skin damage.
6. Like all other organisms, critters have basic needs and WILL find their way inside your home when temperatures rise and rain is scarce whether they be fire ants, spiders or scorpions; prepare yourself mentally for this unsettling inevitability.
HB will be back with another post very soon. She’s joined Yankee Doodles as our expat voice from the States. You’ll be able to follow her tales from the American Southwest right here. And they will be hilarious, frank with perhaps a drip of sarcasm and 100% modern expat woman realness.