Folks, I get it. You folks who moved down here from up north won't admit it and adamantly stick to "at least I don't have to shovel snow!" but we see that living in the fifth layer of Dante's Inferno for 4-5 months a year is getting to you. It gets to us too, we've just had to find ways to cope with it.
My granddaddy's birthday was October 7, and we always told him that it was at a perfect time: it was fall, the weather was cooling, it was peak high school and college football season, the State Fair was in town, Halloween was on the way, and the world was beautiful. Not so much 30+ years later with global warming taking over. Now it's in the 80's, and those fall colors come in November. It has changed. Summer does linger longer in the south than it used to. It's till peak high school and college football season. You just have to wear T-shirts to those games now. People say they migrate to SC because it has 4 seasons, unlike Florida. I tell them yes we do! It's November, December, January, and summer. Pollen starts to fly in mid-February, and that's your passage into summertime. It might end on Halloween. Or it might be 80 degrees on Christmas Day, like it was last year. You never know.
Nobody can change the weather; we can only change our attitude and reactions to it. Today, I'd like to give you a few tips to cope with the heat burning your brain and your patience out.
Implement my "cool tips to beat the heat" suggestions. I wrote a blog on June 16 with tips to keep cool. If you didn't do it then, it's not too late! Humidity is at it's worst in August and September, so there's still time to try these tips to take some of the sting out of summer in the south.
Dress and decorate for the weather we have, not the weather you want. I'm surprised at how many people I see wearing sweaters and long sleeved shirts when it's 90+ degrees with a heat index pushing 100. Yes, I know it looks more professional, nicer, and you're excited to wear those great new fall clothes you bought on tax free weekend. Unfortunately, Mother Earth does not agree with your desires, and pumpkins on the porch in August won't make it fall. Accept it. Do you know what else is on sale now? Summer clothes and outdoor decor. I recently bought a short sleeved work shirt for $4 on clearance, and Rick got some deck chairs (to replace ones that wore out over the summer) for around $30-$40 off. Trust me, it's not wasted. You'll get 6-8 more weeks of use out of summer stuff, and people will forget about over the winter and will think it's new next spring.
Stay home for Labor Day. I know this tip will go over like a lead balloon, but hear me out. If you traveled for Spring Break, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and took a "last vacation before school starts" trip, then consider cancelling your Labor Day vacation. You may not fully realize it in your excitement to "get away" but travel is stressful and expensive. You'd be amazed at how much better you feel if you take a weekend to relax at home and just chill. Give it a try, especially if you still have Fall Break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a "winter vacation" booked for January or February. Check out some books and DVD's from the library, watch your favorite college football team on TV Saturday and order a pizza, hang out with friends and neighbors, or see what local attractions are available in town for low or no cost. You may realize that home isn't so bad, and with a little planning and stocking can be fun and relaxing. Or, if you must get out, check out local attractions. Your home town might have more to offer than you realize and your bank account and car will thank you. You might thank yourself when you see those traffic reports on Friday and Monday and can breathe a sigh of relief that you aren't in that mess.
Of course, I offer this suggestion with discretion. If you haven't been on vacation in a year and this is your one chance, take it. You do need a getaway sometimes, and it's appropriate to do it from time to time. It's just "cool" to load up the car and go every time school closes their doors in many circles, and I don't think people realize how taxing that trend can get on multiple levels.
Take at least 30 minutes a day to do something you want, besides scrolling social media. Keeping up with family and friends is good and fun, but sometimes you need to "unplug" from the world and it's expectations, and just be you. Take at least 30 minutes a day to do something that brings you joy. Read a book, meditate, play with children or pets, talk to your spouse, watch the birds outside, engage in a hobby, take a walk - anything that isn't behind a screen or operating a motor vehicle. Just settle down, relax, and exist. Pencil it in your schedule if you must, but do it. This time could be the difference between staying calm and cool, and finding yourself standing outside in the heat waiting for the police to come to the scene of the accident to write up the report that's going to be just what you don't need right now. And speaking of which:
Remember that when you are operating a motor vehicle, you have one job: operate it safely until you get to your destination. Nobody is such a good driver that it doesn't show when you're incapacitated or distracted. When you get in the car, get yourself settled first. Do not text and drive. No emotional telephone conversations. Don't take mind altering medications or drugs before you drive. If you're angry, just don't do it. Find another driver or use a ride share service if you simply can't calm your whirling brain off long enough to get to your destination. You are not immortal, somebody could wind up dead if you drive carelessly, and that somebody could be you. Driving is an extremely dangerous and high responsibility. Treat it as such.
Likewise, sometimes it helps to give yourself a refresher on things. As a writer, I often read books or take courses on grammar, spelling, editing, and vocabulary. Obviously, we all need to do likewise when it comes to driving, since getting a license is a "one and done" thing. Click this link for a valuable resource to give you a refresher on the basics of driving. It's not condescending, it's practical. I'm not asking you to do anything I don't do myself. I read this guide every now and then myself, and I take a driver training refresher course about every 3-4 years (the last one was in December 2021). Please do this. I told you to remove some of the stigma from this suggestion, but you don't have to tell another soul in the world that you read this guide. And if you are in an accident, the police and your insurance agent will hold you accountable for knowing it, whether you're at fault or not (trust me, I know from being hit in May 2021). Part of having a driver's license is the responsibility to know this information at all times.
Postpone outdoor activities until cooler times. Some outdoor activities must be done, and the best you can do is take care of them during cooler times of the day. Other projects might have to wait until the mercury drops about 20 more degrees. Use common sense when it comes to what happens out of the AC. Yes, you need to cut grass, check car fluids, water plants, etc., but that major landscaping project you want for football season or Thanksgiving might need to be put on hold until we pass into climatological fall (in October), which means the family and neighbors might not see it until Easter or next Memorial Day. That's ok. It's not worth a heat stroke. Get your supplies and store them until the time is right, and then tackle it when the days are actually crisp and cool. One thing we know for sure is that summer will always come back, and usually before we're ready for it. Be patient, do what you can, and acknowledge our actual weather patterns to plan for the rest now and in the future.
I hope this post gives you some tools to deal with the lingering summer so you can actually enjoy it, instead of miserable enduring it. Granddaddy didn't just have a birthday at a good time of year, he also had some good advice. One piece was to not wish time away, because one day you'll wish you had it all back. Yes, the heat is irksome, but embrace summer. You choose to be in a place where it lingers, so enjoy it to the fullest, and make the most of it. Fall will come, and we'll appreciate the seasonal shift to the fullest if we can embrace the good in both seasons. So love the warmth and the long days. Soon, they will pass, and we will find joy in different ways - as we always do.
That's all day. Take care, and have a great week.