September 6, 2011

Icicles in Summer

With the setting and rising of a single sun, attitudes from Las Vegas to Vicksburg changed literally overnight this past Labor Day weekend. Smiles are starting to form again on the faces on folks from all walks of life across the Southwest, South and Southeast. I’ll make an attempt to not sound sexist in any way, but throngs of women across the nation are in celebration because relief blew in on the breeze this weekend.  The incessant barking of the “dog days of summer” is starting to wane as it comes to an end for the Summer of 2011.

The welcome change for many showed up in a blustery gust as the first hints of fall blew in with 30 – 35 mph winds in tow. I stepped outside and realized immediately something was amiss. I saw the weather reports, but come on, I live in Texas and things don’t always go as planned or forecasted when we’re talking about weather in the Lone Star State. But alas, it didn’t feel like I’d just crawled into the circular hell of my clothes dryer, I didn’t break out into an instant sweat and the heat didn’t stifle my breath as I walked in wonder in the front yard. No, it was actually comfortable and this is coming from a man that has zero qualms about hot, North Texas days.

Men and women seem to have differing views on heat and summer in general. Although the change to the weather this weekend was a welcomed change, those that know me, know that I love me some summer. I can honestly say, it’s a rare instance when I hear a man complaining about how “I wish summer were over and fall would get here”. There a a few, but not many. The ladies, on the other hand, are a different story. I honestly don’t know of one woman that has thinking inline with mine. Not one.

Not a soul on this piece of gravel we call earth can truthfully testify, that I’ve ever said anything remotely related to “Oh man I’ll be glad when it starts getting cooler, I can’t stand this heat”. I do, however, remark from time to time that “It’s a scorcher today”. But that in no way dismisses my love for the heat. Ok, ok, go ahead and tell me I have dain bramage and I won’t deny it. But there is just something about the heat and sweating that is invigorating and renewing to me. I know, I need serious, long-term therapy.

My wife and I are always sneaking back and forth from the hallway engaged all summer long in the old “thermostat skirmish”. She’ll lower it to 69 or 70 and I’ll go behind her a while later and bump it up to 74 or 75. I’m not sure why, but women are just wired differently when it comes to heat/cold and being comfortable. And in this case, my wife and I we are polar opposites in that respect.

She loves to be bundled up to the neck in cover on those long summer nights when it’s still 84 degrees at 2:00 a.m. I, on the other hand don’t mind the house being a tad bit warmer, because the covers are too uncomfortable to be pulled up to my ears when I know we could walk outside at that instant and fry an egg to a delightful “over medium” on the hood of my truck. But as the long, hot, lazy days of summer retreat and make way for shorter, cooler days, I once again begin to think of what lies ahead and what the coming months hold in store for me.

As I spoke of earlier, the heat doesn’t bother me basically, at all. Yes, I get hot and sweaty and my skin turns a medium walnut brown if I stay out too long, but again for me, the heat awakes something inside of me. If I have a headache and an overdose of Ibuprofen or Tylenol doesn’t relieve the pain, ten minutes with my face in 105 flames, takes my headache away. I guess my head forgets the pain and is screaming for me to get back inside to cooler temps. And when outside, the sweat feels like a cleansing of sorts and after a nice, long, cool shower, a feeling of renewal moves over me. Sort of like when a snake sheds its skin. But the colder weather always brings something that I do not look forward to and this is wife’s frigid digits.

It’s not such a big deal during the summer, because the cooler weather in the house that my wife demands doesn’t require her to get closer to a heat source, (me). It’s quite the opposite, actually. But in the winter time, when it’s cold and the wind is blowing and I’m getting ready for bed, dread sets in early as I lay me down to sleep.

For those that know my wife, they know she’s a 5’2”, 106 pound bundle of kinetic energy. She’s goes from sunup to sunset without stopping and sometimes, back to sunup again. Many times I’ve awakened to find her still in the kitchen baking or cooking or at the computer answering emails and I realize she hasn’t been to bed yet. And yet, she never, ever seems tired. There’s just something wrong with that. She’s amazing with kids and has the respect of many for the community service programs she initiates, runs and is proud to give service to. But like me, she’s not perfect and forgive me darlin’, but dang, she got cold hands and feet!

I try to make sure to be the first in bed when the temps dip below say, 40 degrees, because once that level of temperature is here in Texas for the duration of winter, I’m officially cold. My feet are cold, my hands are cold, my nose, ears and elbows are cold. I’m cold until the spring thaw. So I try to get into bed and wrap the covers around me, to get a head start on warming up.

Once I’m in bed for more than two minutes, the heat my body puts out creates a nice little, warm cocoon and I’m very comfortable. And as my wife will tell you, once I’m comfortable, I’m asleep in no time. Well, THAT’S when she decides to get in bed toting those lethal weapons she refers to as fingers and toes. And yes, the first thing she does is scoot right up next to me.

Not only is she a little bundle of energy, she’s also a bundle of humor. Knowing full well the temperature of her fingers resemble that of the dangling stalactites hanging from the eaves of a house right after a freezing winter rain, she carefully, gleefully and oh so strategically places the tips right into the small of my back. The placement ensures that I make a sudden, catapultic launch straight out of the bed and into the wall next to me. If these little events were “accidental”, the pain and discomfort wouldn’t be so bad. But the demonic little giggle coming from the red-eyed face of my beloved tells me that this was planned well in advance. And for the next twenty minutes I have to endure the unending cackles of her, “I’m so sorry” laughter.

Her explanation is that she wants me “to understand how cold she really is”. Ok? I’m not sure why, but that’s her excuse and she’s “sticking to it”. I know it’s cold outside and that’s why I make the attempt to get warm and go to sleep quickly, so I can forget that I’m freezing to death. But right or wrong, happy or sad, cold or hot, she is my sweetie and soon I’m warm once again and somehow I dismiss the trauma I just endured and drift off.

About six months from now, or when the days start warming to the point where I can crawl out of my winter shell, I will be outside non-stop. I do admit there are days that can be too hot to do anything, and most of the Summer of 2011 was just that. It was (still is) a record breaking heat wave and the drought that we’re facing here in this part of Texas goes on with no relief in sight.

For the first time in my life, that I can recall, I can honestly say that I look forward to the fall and winter rains and snows. Now before you think I’ve lost my mind and just retracted everything I just said, let me explain. It’s not for the glory of watching the new fallen snow, or the delight that I might get to miss a work day or two because of bad weather, no, it’s partly because I’m sure there won’t be any precipitation of any noticeable level for the rest of the Texas summer. Oh yeah, on the calendar it might say we’re getting close to “fall” and in Maine, or Washington State or even Southern California, fall may have arrived. But here in Texas, the heat, albeit a lot less than the abnormal levels we’ve experienced this year, go on. So I’m praying for the cold weather to bring the rain and snow to heal this parched land. To turn the brown, flat mess I call a yard, into a lush green landscape once again.

Unfortunately for us here in North Texas, I don’t think the color green will be visible again until the first Robin Redbreast returns once again in the early days of Spring, 2012. And when it does return, I’m praying for it to bring two things... spring rains and the warming rays of summer.

The Impulsive Texan

"I may not get much done, but I sure am slow"...