It happens every summer here — at some point, the sweet days of May and June give way to the somewhat vicious dogs of high summer in Kansas. The temperature climbs into the 90s and stays there, save the occasional tornado weather that plummets it down in 10 minutes 30 degrees and picks up poodles and dollhouses as the storm approaches. The humidity gets wicked crazy too, so much so that I can’t walk out of my house or car without my glasses steaming up.
What’s worse is always the beginning because our bodies just aren’t attuned to this kind of relentless heat — like when it’s 2 a.m. and it’s still 85 degrees. In the first few weeks, I always feel like a giant vacuum cleaner has been attached to my back and has sucked out a noticeable percentage of vitality. I see this in others too — my husband sprawled on the couch mid-afternoon, my son huddled into the side of a chair as he snored, and especially my cats, stretched to capacity on the coolest stretch of floor.
These are the days when I open my freezer and hold my face close to the ice trays, consider driving very fast for nine hours to the Rockies, drink nine cups of iced water in a row, duck into movie theaters mid-afternoon when no one is looking, and decide where to go and what to do by how well I’ll be air-conditioned. This is when it makes good sense to have ice cream for dinner followed by cold peaches and more iced water while reading odd tidbits in five-year-old issues of People. It’s survival time, and tempers are short, stamina is scarce, and a woman just gets tired of feeling sweat pour down her face in dogward dog.
Yet there’s a weird sweetness — call it the rationalization of the overheated — that comes from moving through this. “Heard it’s going to be in the high 80s on Sunday,” a friend calls out over our iced coffee. “Wow,” someone else answers, and this, believe me, is not saracastic in the least. By the time the temperature down drop to say, a high of 91, the air feels almost sweet. Besides, the tomatoes are reddening and sweet corn is on the way.