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Rounding Third: Hot, hot, hot in the new local tropics

Well, the dog days of summer have arrived and it is still spring – until Friday.

Oy! Since when did the twin tiers of Pennsylvania and New York state become southern Mississippi? I’m usually griping about the intense heat and humidity in mid-August, not mid-June.

I’ve just finished getting my garden in … with some much-needed help because of the overbearing heat. And already, I need to be out watering twice a day. As I write this, the heat index is forecast to be 101-degrees through Friday. Those thirsty plants are hanging their tongues out, looking for the hose. “I’m coming, little buddies, hang on. I’ll be with you as soon as I hydrate myself and super-saturate the zinnias.” Then I can move on to the less needy, quieter begonias.

Over the years, I’ve gradually learned to love begonias. They don’t like a lot of water – just enough. I can relate. I do like a little summer gin. Not a lot – just enough.

Despite the heat, I can wait until the weekend to indulge. But the begonias also require a mid-week hit.

This intense heat does require more than extra garden watering. It requires vigilance. Yesterday, the first day of the sultry season, I ran one errand and made a trip to the doctor’s office. I started by hopping into my car, and immediately lifted my rear end off the leather seat. Youch! Hot-cha-cha! Quick – full blast A.C. I also opened the moon roof to let the fiery air out and pressed open all four windows at once. Whew.

When I returned home, I left the roof open to keep the car cool. This little Honda has never seen the inside of a garage so I baby it a little. I don’t want the leather interior to look like it was tanned in Arizona back in the 1900s. Since I am pretty much planning on it being my last car, extra TLC is appropriate.

It was just before bedtime when I remembered that I hadn’t shut the roof hatch. I opened the front door to slip out in my nightgown. But wait! What’s this? Oh, Richard must have closed it. He’s good about things like that. He was already asleep, so I never thought another thing about it.

When I opened my cellphone to make a call this morning, there were two text messages – both from my next-door neighbor, Alice. I didn’t see those messages last evening. The first said she noticed the car roof was open, and she would be happy to run over and close it. Then, not hearing back from me, her second message, 15 minutes later, read: “I just ran over and closed it. I hope that’s OK.” OK? Omigosh. The only thing that could not be OK with Alice is if she ever moves away. Knowing she and Eric are next door helps me sleep more soundly.

A car ride with air-conditioning on high was a good place to be Monday and Tuesday. Just walking across parking lots to stores or offices was punishing. I have heard for years that senior citizens need to reduce their outdoor activities and remain home, inactive, in cool dark rooms. Sounds like a zombie recipe to me. But I’m learning there’s a little truth in the advice. Breathing this stifling air is a challenge for me and my oxygen concentrator.

When we finally installed central air-conditioning five years ago, it changed my summertime life. Anytime I’m working outside or overdoing inside, just flopping down in a cool room, occasionally with the overhead fan also whirring, is pure heaven. The only problem I have with it is looking out the window to the beauty of the Norway maple, the robins, and the geraniums. My inner voice says I should be out

there with them! People of my vintage were raised to be outdoors in good weather. But I have finally decided – reluctantly – that listening to the wise experts is sensible.

In the 98-degrees of yesterday, my ice cream cone melted very quickly. I could barely lick fast enough to keep it from running toward my elbow. My lick-speed was the most strenuous activity of my Monday, other than cutting up a cantaloupe. Today, I hope to improve on that exhausting pursuit with a harder ice cream and no food prep. This is going to be the cook’s week off. Freezer scrounging and leftovers are the kitchen sport through Friday.

Next week is supposed to be more sensible: temperatures in the 70s. Perfect spring days. The first week of summer. Cool, comfortable bliss.

Marcy O’Brien can be reached at Moby.32@hotmail.com

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