Summertime, and the blogging gets slower


Creative Every Day’s theme for July is Life.  That means everything, right?  So no matter what I write about, it meets the theme.  Leah suggested we could write autobiographical bits, and I’ve been meaning to write about summer heat, so I’ll tell a story.

I haven’t felt like blogging lately.  Couldn’t tell you why, specifically.  Perhaps I have nothing to say.  Most people who know me would say that’s impossible – I always have something to say.  Not so.  Maybe I’m in another fit of wondering why I should be blogging.  But you know what?  I told myself I’d finish out the year and I will.  Then, I’ll evaluate.

So it’s summer.  That could have something to do with it. We had a few very hot days, but mostly, our Bakersfield weather is atypically cool.  (The low 90s is cool for us in summer.)  But on those 100+ days, the heat zaps the life out of you.  Even in an air conditioned house, somehow you know how hot it is.

Here comes the sun

This isn’t actually the sun, nor even representative of one except that it’s round.  It’s a photograph I took of the London Eye with the individual compartments replaced by daisies, and that big daisy in the center.  Anything round in the sky makes me think of sun.  You can see more art here – and photos here.  The point is, all the photos with the sun are sunsets.  I don’t think we ever go out in the heat of the day to take pictures of the blazing sun.  Do we?  As photographers, we know to stay out of the harsh midday light.  Blazing, harsh – not words to entice you outside.

This is what it really feels like.

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy – or not

I understand that lyric because I lived in North Carolina for three years with three small children – and without air conditioning.  There is no way to do anything fast.  Sometimes, moving at all is hard.  I’d lie in bed at night and try to work out systems for suspending myself from the ceiling so no part of my body would even touch the sheets.

Yet it didn’t seem to bother the kids.  For us adults, though, the livin’ was not very easy.  We had a very small house (it may not have even been 1,000 sq. ft.), five jobs between the two of us, and three kids under six.  Oh, and my husband was a graduate student at UNC Chapel Hill.  Yep, our livin’ was not very easy.  Even with the five jobs, we had no money.

But what can you do?  You do what you have to – take care of the kids, plan activities, etc.  You would run in the sprinklers if you were in California, but in North Carolina no one has sprinklers.  Don’t need ’em.  It rains.  Nearly every day in the summer.  In the afternoon the sky would darken, the wind would come up, I’d gather the kids and anything that might be outside – not only so it wouldn’t get wet but so it wouldn’t blow away.  And then we’d see the lightning and hear the thunder.  It wouldn’t rain for very long usually- just long enough to leave us with steaming, saturated air one could barely breathe in.  Oh my, that humidity.

There was a foul odor in our bedroom.  We could not identify it.  We looked, searched, nothing.  After a two or three weeks it went away.  And two years later, when we moved out of that house, we rolled up the straw mat on the floor and, entwined in the straw weaving on the bottom, was a little mouse skeleton.  Unbelievable.  Gross.  We’d been smelling decomposing mouse.

I remember when the air conditioning in the car broke, and that was our only refuge.  We were so broke ourselves that I didn’t take the car in.  Finally, by September, I couldn’t take it anymore and in I went to the garage.  It was a $5 part.  For $5 I could have been driving cool.

That’s life

Not long ago, I said my life is a song.  I can’t get away from lyrics, as you can tell from the mini-headlines.  But that’s life; we did what we had to do.  Now, as an adult – an older adult – I don’t have to take care of little ones, and Bakersfield is not as humid as the south, but it’s harder every year to deal with the heat.  I don’t do dark well, but I have to keep my bedroom dark in the mornings to keep the heat out.  Have to open and shut blinds.  By late August, I am crabby but know the heat will continue through October.  Once in a while, there is a whiff of fall, everything relaxes, and then it’s hot again.

It feels like this:

Hot, electric, infra-red.  Thirsty.

Would you rather be hot or cold?

We humans are funny.  We’re always asking questions like,”Would you rather live at the beach or in the mountains?”  “Do you like summer or winter better?”  It’s as if we must pin ourselves down and choose instead of enjoying the merits of both.  After all this griping, I can say I’d rather be hot than cold, however.  We were in the Peace Corps in Morocco from 1971 to 1973.  Our first year, we had no heat in the winter.  Our house was new – a cement structure still holding lots of moisture, and we could see our breath inside. It was very cold.

We moved the stove into our bedroom so we could keep the oven on all day for warmth.  We cooked in the bedroom, which mostly worked out except for the time I spilled the pot of soup all over our bed.  We put our dining room table in the bedroom, which consisted of a plank of wood  supported by bricks.  It was low – we sat on the floor. The cold cement floor. Maybe we had cushions; I don’t remember. We bundled up like Eskimos but there is a point where one more sweater, one more blanket, won’t do it.  It’s as if you’ve reached maximun warmth and nothing else will help.

Jenny, who was two, would run around barefoot and it didn’t bother her a bit. I was always trying to get her to put shoes on, or a sweater.   Somehow we managed a trip to Malaga in Spain for a long weekend (it was very close to Oujda, where we were.  There is even a Spanish town, Melilla, in Morocco.) We took the cheapest boat to cross the Mediterranean in the cheapest staterooms.  I spent the entire night throwing up – I was pregnant.  But in Malaga it was warmer.  I knew what I had to do.  I took Jenny and went on home leave for at least four weeks, returning to stay with my parents in North Carolina.  I know from that experience that being cold is impossible.  More impossible than being hot.

I tried to find some photos to scan for this post, but it appears I didn’t take any photos in summer in North Carolina.  I guess it was too hot!

Heat is always on my mind

I am about to go to Florida – West Palm Beach – for a soccer tournament.  One of my granddaughters is playing on the AYSO team from our region.  I think I’ve had heat on my mind because I am a bit apprehensive.  Last summer we went to Disneyland on what turned out to be a very hot and humid day, and I didn’t do well.  But I want to have the experience of the soccer tournament, and then going to Orlando after it’s over to visit Harry Potter World.  So somehow I’ll deal.  And I’ll see a new place and the kids will no doubt find playing soccer with temps in the 90s and real feel in the 100s and humidity not nearly as hard as I will find just sitting in it.  I will take pictures, however.  And it’ll be so much cooler to relive it through photos.

So there’s my little slice of life, my autobiographical bit for Creative Every Day.  Life.  We have a motto here in Bakersfield – Life as it should be.  (Or sometimes not.)

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