Leon Hale’s take on the heat of summer…

Leon Hale is a Houston institution. His column has been running in Houston Newspapers for as long as I’ve been around (or at least as long as I’ve been aware of being around). Today he broaches a subject near and dear to my heart…Texas summer heat.

So the other afternoon I decided it was time to do the remember-the-heat column again. I took about 10 steps out the front door, and that blast of hot air off the sidewalk hit me in the chops, and I said, “Wait a minute, I don’t need to go outside to remember what life was like without AC. I can remember it just fine sitting at my desk.” So I turned around and went back inside.

While I too, grew to adulthood here in Texas without AC, I do not see anything wrong with his sentiment.

I remember August days, long ago, when we’d roam all day in the woods and along creeks, just out there messing around, waiting for school to start. The heat was fierce, but we didn’t know what the temperature was. Could have been 102. Maybe more. Probably was.

Uncomfortable

Trouble now is, we’re not allowed to ignore the discomfort. Several times a day we’re reminded that the heat is upon us, and it’s high, and it’s bad. And if 96 isn’t hot enough for us, listen to this — it feels like 103. What’s the advantage in knowing that the air feels hotter than the thermometer reading? I’m surprised the Chamber of Commerce doesn’t complain.

When we moved into our present home the AC unit outside was of an age that I felt better about living with the vagrancies of Texas summers than firing up a relic of the 1960’s and paying the power company for the privilege. Since at the time money was tight and an upgrade wasn’t in the cards, we spent most of those early summers thanking the original owners of this old country house for planting the thirteen oaks that shade the acre around this house. We also spent much of the time outside in whatever breeze there might be with a book and a 32 oz. glass of iced tea (unsweetened of course, Pablo). Meals tended to be grilled so we didn’t heat up the house before bedtime.

Vacations in those days, when we could afford them, were spent running to the Hill Country. For the non-Texans out there, that’s the part of Texas north and west of San Antonio and Austin where the typography actually goes up and down with some regularity and the humidity is almost non existent. It is also a land of rock bottomed rivers and man-made lakes of cool water where days can be spent lazing and floating in a swimsuit for weeks on end.

There are a few State Parks in the center of this state that fill the bill and still bring on fond memories…Inks Lake and the granite massive below the Ranger Station at the entrance that was the backyard of the screened shelter we always rented. Where for hours after sunset you could lay and soak up the heat as the night cooled and the Milky Way took form across the heavens in all it glory…

The beach of Lake Whitney on a moonless night when the only family in the whole park was ours. The kids playing cards at camp while the wife and I sat and stared at infinity…

The evenings in Kerrville, above the river, just out of town at another favorite shelter with a patio below with benches and table…That’s the way to live through the Texas summer heat just like our Texas ancestors who packed up the kids during the summer and hightailed it to the same hills and rivers…

This didn’t start out as a stroll down memory lane but I thank Leon for the trigger that brought on the flood of good memories…especially the memory of the miles of damn dam jokes that broke up all the kids and had the whole car laughing until the tears flowed one summer as we drove through Texas…

Y’all stay cool…

Link: Heat is hard to forget | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle

2 thoughts on “Leon Hale’s take on the heat of summer…”

  1. It’s been 30 years or more since I added sugar to my iced tea. Luckily most tea down here was served unsweetened until just recently, and you had to add your own poison. Now most places have both sweet and unsweet ready to pour…

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