If You Can’t Stand The Heat. . .


Simply put, it’s hot outside.  Real hot.  The kind of hot that tries to sneak into every crevice of the house, that turns blacktop into water, that makes the simplest of tasks — like breathing — a sweaty mess.  It’s the kind of hot featured in Body Heat, the crime noir film in which the sultry weather was as much of a star as Kathleen Turner and William Hurt.

I happen to enjoy hot weather, mostly because a) I’m usually cold and b) I’m fortunate to not have to work outside for a living — and thankful for those who must.  I, on the other hand, can squeeze in any gardening duties before sunrise or after sunset.

And so each morning, I awake with a song buzzing around my head — and it’s not the cicadas.  It’s a classic from Marilyn Monroe:

“We’re havin’ a heat wave, a tropical heat wave. . .”

That’s my cue to begin my primary chore — delivering water to the garden.  I’m one of the few people in my neighborhood that does not have a sprinkler system.  Why have an entire system to deliver water when I can drag hoses and mobile sprinklers all over the yard, careful to not crush any plants or knock over any pottery along the way?  Besides, the old method gives me greater control — and the chance that I might get wet if I have to run through the sprinkler to fine tune my aim.

At least that’s how I approached the heat wave at its start. Since then, I’ve watched the news, and the reporters informed me — in their best end-of-days voices — that this heat wave is the longest one in decades.  People are dying.  Highways are buckling.  Power is failing.  Even my local supermarket is conserving energy by turning off large banks of lights.  Maybe I need to rethink my summer position.

And with that, my love for extreme heat melted away faster than a Fudgesicle in July.  Although the zinnias have held up beautifully (an upcoming “Bloomin’ Update” will celebrate them), the temperatures are starting to take their toll in the garden.  Not only is there no night-time relief, there just isn’t enough of me — or water, for that matter — to keep all of my plants sated.  Despite my best water brigade efforts, the new grass is burning, the hydrangeas are wilting, and the daylilies are more like half-daylilies.  Admire them before noon; they may not make it beyond 3:00.


I also notice that I am eerily alone while I’m outside.  My neighbors are absent, although I see their automatic sprinkler systems continuing to operate.  I wonder if they’ve adopted a vampire life, emerging after the sun has set.  Or have they fled north in search of cooler weather?  I hope not, because they’re missing out on some very green lawns.

I shield my eyes from the sun’s glare as I look through the film of ozone that hazes the distance.  I’m looking for Rod Serling to appear to let me know that I’ve entered “The Twilight Zone.”

One of my favorite episodes from that series is all about heat.  In “The Midnight Sun,” a young woman and an elderly neighbor are trying to hold on as the world, knocked out of its orbit and headed toward the sun, burns up under increasingly heated temperatures.  (The kicker is that the earth was knocked away from the sun and the young lady is actually delirious with a very high fever.)

Fortunately, I have someone “The Twilight Zone” characters didn’t have.  I have Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel — who is a bit like Rod Serling.  Like Rod, if Jim shows up outside your door, you know some weird stuff is about to go down.

In a recent report, Jim explained that the heat wave is the result of an enormous high pressure system stalled over the eastern half of the country, acting like a bubble that was not only heating up, but trapping the heat inside of it — a kind of meteorological Under the Dome, if you will.

Whew, I say to myself, that’s a relief.  At least the earth is still in its orbit.

He then finished his report: “This thing is getting bigger!”

A few things, Jim.  First, when you say a sentence like that, it sounds like bad dialogue from a b-movie.  Second, your tone of voice really doesn’t make me feel calm.  I mean, I was feeling pretty good about the earth staying in its orbit, but you’re making this high pressure dome sound like the high pressure dome that ate the world.

Hope for relief came in tonight’s weather forecast, with promises of cooler temperatures by the end of the weekend.

Truthfully, I don’t want cooler temperatures.  I don’t want summer to rush away.

Besides, cooler weather will be coming all too soon.  It’s called autumn, followed by winter.  Speaking of winter, this was the view from my front window a few months ago.  It kind of looks like an earth moving away from the sun.


Until then, I’ll happily hydrate, wear light-colored clothing, and hope for the best with my plants.  And if Rod Serling or Jim Cantore knocks on my door, I’ll let you know.

30 thoughts on “If You Can’t Stand The Heat. . .

  1. I love our summer this year here in Seattle. It has been one of the best in my 20 years of living out here. I grew up on the east coast so I know how HOT it can get there!!!!

    • Hey Alesia. The heat wave has been a bit much, especially for those who have to work outside. Fortunately, I’m home for the summer, so that gives me time to water plants, relax, and enjoy the heat. Better heat than snow. 🙂 Enjoy the rest of summer!

    • I’ve lived back east, too. I much prefer the weather here in Seattle. Summer here may not be hot, but it is alsways bone dry. Watering early and late is pretty much what I do in the garden in the summer.

      • Hey Deirdre. We should be getting some cool by the end of the weekend — until then, it’s sizzle and sweat. I hope to make it out to Seattle some day. 🙂

  2. OMG, that Twilight Zone episode still haunts me. I can still see the paintings on the wall melting into running smears of color. And that ending! Although, right now, I might not mind the ending scenario. As the local weather forecaster noted a couple of days ago, “We’re just not built for heat here in Maine; we’re built for cold.”

    • Hey Jean. It’s one of my faves, along with the episode starring Burgess Meredith as a glasses-wearing banker who just wants time to read — and in true Twilight Zone style, he gets it. I do guess Maine folks are built for cold. Hope you get a cool down soon.

    • Hi Teresa. That’s always my plan. My newest technique is leave off the nozzle and just flood the ground. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  3. I thought all American had airco in their houses ! I love hot days in the early morning and the late evening and inbetween if I don’t have to work but then I want a big tree and a lazy chair, a nice book and a cool drink….it’s hot here too and it gives me a lot more work in the garden as I have a lot of pots. But finally my tomatoes are ripening !
    Have a great weekend !

  4. We have this kind of weather, with lots of rain included, every summer….for about 6 months!! I almost ‘hibernate’ in the summer. At least you will eventually feel cooler temps….by the end of this weekend. In south Florida, we are lucky if we get cooler temps in October! Stay hydrated!

    • Hi Mary. I know South Florida has been hammered with rain in recent weeks — but your temps have actually been cooler than here. In all honesty, I’m looking forward to enjoying your climate. Be well!

  5. Hi Kevin,
    I know how you feel, we are well into the 90’s here and it’s only getting hotter. Thankfully my plants are in the shade but they wilt and droop all day long. The water is too hot to water the plants during the day as the pipes through which it travels are boiling. That means I water in the evening. Another thing is that if I water first thing in the morning the sun evaporates all moisture far too quickly. Good luck and try to endure it as best you can. Remember humans need water too 🙂

    • Hey Graziella. Today I followed the shade to do yard work — and when it comes to watering, my new idea is to leave off the nozzle and just flood the ground. Sometimes, I intentionally aim the hose at me. 🙂

  6. Love love love!!!! You are the bestest! You manage to make me laugh (out loud), feel nostalgic, worry, and sympathize all at once. I will, however, sing the praises of my in-ground sprinklers and drip irrigation system ’til the cows come home.

    • Hi Lori. Glad you enjoyed the post. I actually wrote it while sitting outside — you know, to capture the flavor — and you would have thought I ran a marathon. Who knew typing could produce sweat? 🙂

      • Haha, I relate to that sweat. Yesterday I was in my very un-air-conditioned kitchen when I wrote an email with sweat pouring–Pouring!–down my face. Sheesh!

        Stay hydrated and cool and thanks for the delightful entry!

      • Hey Jenny. It’s kind of amazing how the simplest of tasks can cause sweat. It should give us all greater admiration for those who do heavy labor in the heat, such as firefighters, sanitation workers, road crews, etc. I don’t think — no, I know I wouldn’t be able to do it. Hope the cooler, dryer weather makes it to you. 🙂

      • Hello from a blessedly cooler Boston! I concur on the impressive qualities of the firefighter, etc. I am especially blown away by roofers who typically have no access to shade whatsoever. Thank goodness for them.

  7. You’ve really captured the essence of the weather pattern around here too. Can’t wait to check out the episode of The Twilight Zone you cited–used to love that show but don’t remember this one. I agree with you though, let’s not hurry summer along.

  8. I can completely relate while remembering just a few years back with a hot, hot, hot summer and we didn’t have sprinklers. We had been saying that we enjoyed our “watering duties” but that summer broke us. We couldn’t get it all in. By the next summer we had a fully automatic system. We broke under the summer heat! Now this summer is quite mild so far and it appears you are experiencing high heat! I just hope you can stay on top of it and not lose too many plants. I don’t remember this particular Twilight Zone, but as a big fan of the show, I’ll look forward to it. 🙂

    • Hey Debra. I have a feeling that at some point I will go with a system — and I’m sure I will be marveled at the ease of watering and wondering why I didn’t do it sooner. I’d write more, but it’s time for me to move the hose. . . 🙂

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