July 23, 2014 § 1 Comment
I grew up in the days before everyone in the South had air conditioning, but until this summer, I don’t remember ever being so weighted down by the South Carolina heat. “Maybe it’s age,” my husband said, but I will not grace that comment with a reply—not today or six months from now. (:\
I have decided that South Carolinians must be at least 40% aquatic because we almost literally swim through days like today when the temperature is 95 degrees and relative humidity hovers around 97% with no breeze to stir even a blade of grass. How else could we breathe? Maybe we have developed some invisible gills to assist us. Or maybe our lungs have evolved to tolerate the high levels of moisture. Who knows?
At any rate, today I had to be outside for a while, and I was miserable. Charlie, my cat, is almost totally blind, but he still loves to go outside and make his daily rounds. We usually start the day at sunrise with a walk when the air is cool and the sun’s rays slant through the oaks and pines. Both of us enjoy the time. He meditates on the shifting light and shadows as the sun rises and feels absolutely independent and in charge of himself (important for a cat!), and I make my daily fifteen laps=one mile from the mailbox to the end of the street. Charlie supervises and counts from his chosen spot on the cul-de-sac.
But in the afternoons, our time outside is not quite so enjoyable. He loves to roll in a patch of sand and soak up the heat, while I wait impatiently in the shade of a tree, or sometimes if he doesn’t wander too far, I can sit on the porch. Today was a porch day. I paced and sighed and prayed he would get his “fill for the day,” and we could hurry back to the a/c inside. But Charlie lingered, climbing the lattice in search of lizards, mounting the bird bath for a quick lap of water. And while he attended to his curiosity, I suddenly thought back to my childhood summer afternoons. Surely it was as hot and humid then, as now. But we often passed them hours on end on my grandmother’s open porch. When the air grew thick and heavy distant thunder rumbled raising our hopes for an early evening shower, my grandmother guided me to the front porch where we took seats in a rocker or the porch swing. Then she’d hand me a large metal bowl and a brown grocery sack of field peas or butter beans. A small table held a pitcher of lemonade or sweet tea and usually cookies or brownies or slices of pound cake. We endured many sultry afternoons, rocking, swinging, and shelling while sharing local gossip or old family stories. Yet I don’t remember every breaking a sweat or wanting to strip down to my undies in attempt to get cool. I just remember the stories and the time we spent together. And of course, later, there was always a delicious supper to eat (fresh from the garden) while we listened to the rain making music on the roof.