Summertime in South Alabama

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 17, 2002

"Oh the weather outside is frightful, but air conditioning is so delightful. And since we've no place to go, let it blow, let it blow, let it blow.

"No it doesn't show signs of stopping, and my sweating brow I'm mopping. But since it is now July, we'll just fry, we'll just fry, we'll just fry…"

Ma, it's hot. I don't mean kind of warm. It is hot.

Hades hot. Fry an egg on the sidewalk hot. Sweat while you're standing still hot. Hot as blue blazes, as Daddy would say.

I admit I am not a summer person. I am, however, an outside person. Unfortunately, the two are not compatible this time of year.

"I don't think it got this hot when we were children," I told my husband. "I don't remember being this uncomfortable."

When I was growing up we didn't have air conditioning, just open windows and a big attic fan. Never do I recall complaining about the heat.

"I think the weather is changing," I said. "Alabama is becoming the tropics, minus the rain."

The other morning I went out early to do a yard survey. This is a daily ritual that gardeners will understand.

I made a swoop around the yard to see what the dogs plowed up in their run through the flower beds chasing squirrels to the woods. I replanted what the squirrels dug up before the dogs chased them out of the beds, and I fussed about what the rabbits ate while the dogs were out of pocket chasing squirrels.

Then I checked out the garden, picking tomatoes that were ready and cutting a pod or two of okra. This took all of 15 minutes.

"I am soaking wet," I said to my husband, as I dropped the tomatoes in the sink. "You don't want to get close because I don't think I smell great either. It's too darn hot."

Since I was already hot and stinky, I decided to plant a couple of perennials I got last week. Before I put the first one in the ground, perspiration (that sounds nicer than saying sweat) was pouring into my eyes bringing with it lotion I smeared on before I went out.

"Gee, my eyes are on fire," I said. "Ouch."

A squirrel, perched on a branch overhead, let out a sound I swear was laughter.

"Just for that, I'm putting red pepper in the bird feeder," I said to the chattering varmint. "That'll shut you up."

I grabbed the tail of my tee shirt and wiped my eyes.

After putting three plants in the ground, I gave up and went back to the air conditioning.

By mid afternoon clouds gathered and a summer thunderstorm blew up dumping rain for about 30 minutes. Then the sun was back in full force turning the world into a sauna.

"Well at least I don't have to water anything today," I said to my husband. "The squash is probably steamed on the vine, so all I have to do is pick it and serve it up."

Just before dark I ventured out again hoping for cooler temperatures. As I did my end of the day flower bed inspection, seeing what was blooming and what was about to bloom, I swatted mosquitoes and sweated some more.

"Well, it is summertime in South Alabama," I said to my husband as I collapsed on an air conditioning vent.

"Yep, and there is probably another three months of it ahead," he said.

I lay back on the rug and listened to the comforting hum of the central unit as it sang.

"Oh the sun is slowly dying and it's still so hot we're frying. But all we can do is call, hurry fall, hurry fall, hurry fall …"