2011.07.20 Keeping cool with grandbaby Caroline

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

I walked out of the library Monday evening at 6:30 into a blazing hot and steamy wall of heat emanating from the parking lot. It felt hotter than the time we geocached in a weird little patch of trees in Miami and hotter than the days I spent  last summer in New Orleans when I showered and changed my clothes three times every day because I was a constant sweaty mess. It felt even hotter than the blast of furnace air in Phoenix where I really thought I might die from the heat.

“What the heck?!” I almost shouted. “What’s the meaning of this heat?”

I had spent most of the day in the air-conditioned library and was literally shocked at how hot it was when I emerged. And, it’s not like we keep it all that low at the library—when we’re open the thermostat is usually set to 76 degrees; when closed, it’s set on 83.

My very un-air-conditioned house was maybe half a degree cooler than the outdoors Monday evening. Usually, we win the war on summer heat by running a powerful fan out an upstairs window at night, drawing cool air in. But there was no keeping Monday’s hot air out. 

I keep thinking we’re going to have to install an air conditioner since our kids keep moving to places where AC is everywhere and they are now acclimated to its use—as opposed to sweating it out with me and David...and repeatedly uttering, “This, too, shall pass.”

But, heck, we haven’t even bought the extra fans we keep saying we’re going to buy. So, we revert to our trusty homemade form of air-conditioning—a spray bottle of water turned to a mist setting and a fan turned directly on you. Just a few squirts cools you right down...until you have to do it again a few minutes later.

You almost have to brace yourself before spraying because even with room temperature water, it’s a tad shocking when the mist hits your hot face or body. It’s most lovely to spray straight up into the air and anticipate the coolness as the water wafts down and the fan blows your wet skin dry. 

Yes, as David Green always says, “Evaporation is a cooling process.”

I think baby Caroline enjoys it. She, too,  braces herself when I squirt the bottle upward, and then closes her eyes, breathes in, and shudders a little when the water lands on her—before breaking into a big smile.

I admit to less efficient ways of cooling off—standing in front of the open refrigerator pretending to look for something to eat. But, good does come of that when I actually find something to eat. I e-mailed Ben about that and other hot weather-related news Sunday.

“I am so happy to report that I found the yogurt container with just enough cilantro dip to cap off a dinner of open face chicken salad sandwiches with mustard greens. We even had a new bag of chips to dip.

“And earlier today I discovered you left one of those rocket popsicles in the freezer. Cooled me off long enough to get to the air-conditioned library.

“It was 88 degrees at 8:30 tonight...although our positive-thinking thermometer outside the kitchen window insists all day long that it's 76 degrees.”

That’s another way of keeping cool—believe your inaccurate thermometer and trick yourself into believing it’s not really so hot.

Or, there’s a whole new keeping-cool approach I discovered last night when I was dancing in my pants from an incredibly itchy spider bite right at the base of my spine. I put an ice cube between my underwear and my pants, right up against the bite. Not only did it take care of the itch, it cooled me down immensely.

OK, it did leave a gigantic spot as if I had wet my pants, but I was cooled off, the itch was gone, and baby Caroline, who wets her pants on a regular basis, did not care one bit that her grandma was looking prematurely incontinent.

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