BLAKELY — A few years ago, while I was standing in ankle-deep snow trying to clean off my car so I could drive it up an ice-covered Thompson Bridge Road to get to work, I made a vow.
“Lord,” I said, “please deliver me from all this snow and ice, and please let it warm up outside. And if you do, I promise I won’t complain about the heat this summer.”
Being a man of my word, I intended to keep that promise. And I have. Then I spent two weeks at my mother’s house in Southwest Georgia, which, unbeknownst to me, has become the home office of heat and humidity.
I’m a native of Southwest Georgia. I thought I understood heat and humidity. Hey, it’s Georgia. It’s summertime. And it’s supposed to be hot in Georgia in the summertime. So I learned at a young age to deal with it, if not enjoy it. It was never anything we really complained about.
My mother, ever the believer in fresh air, made us play outside all day, which was fine with us. We would ride out bikes all over the neighborhood or play in the nearby words. I don’t ever remember thinking, “It’s hot.” I don’t ever remember wishing I was inside, even though the mercury in Southwest Georgia regularly pushed triple digits.
But this trip back home seemed different. It just seemed hotter than it was when I was a kid.
I supposed I could have just stayed inside. We’ve all become wimps to the heat and slaves to our air conditioners. We don’t go outside and we don’t make our kids go outside. We let them stay inside to play video games or surf the internet.
I have a friend who says people complain about the heat because they make a fundamental mistake: They go outside.
“Don’t,” he routinely tells me. “Outside is where the heat is.”
Stay inside, he suggests. Inside is where you can get air conditioning and ice, and if you’re lucky, a cold beer or two.
But Milly, the liver and white springer spaniel who lives at my house, must go outside occasionally, lest there be an indiscretion on my mother’s carpet. And I had to go outside some, too. I didn’t have a gym I could go to in Blakely, so, to keep my somewhat-svelte appearance, I decided to walk five miles each morning.
I started out walking about 8 o’clock, and by the time I got back to the house, I felt like I had run a marathon. I kept backing up my start time until I was leaving the house before daybreak. It didn’t go much good. I still felt like a roast right out of the oven by the time I was finished.
Some friends blamed the ungodly humidity. You’ve heard it a million times: It’s not the heat. It’s the humidity.”
But you know what? It is, too, the heat and I don’t care what anyone says. I don’t care how humid it is when it’s 65 degrees outside. I went to Tempe, Arizona, a few years ago and the temperature was about 105. Whatever. I still felt like the aforementioned roast.
I apologize for breaking my vow not to complain about the heat. Despite all the sweating, I do love that little corner of our state, and I can’t imagine being from any place else.
But don’t get me started on gnats.