The sky is blue, even if a bit hazy. Spring wildflowers are handing over the stage to the summer ones. The days are long and the nights teem with giant, chatty frog gatherings next to the little creek in the mini-ravine next “door”. It sounds enchanting; one might half-expect a secret faerie cove to be nestled by that creek.
As far as I know, there isn’t. (I should know; I haven’t gone traipsing around down there, but years ago I gave the spot an unusually lingering eye while driving by, in attempt to evaluate it for its suitability should we find ourselves homeless at some point.)
We didn’t. But I’ve written about that a few times before, so as miraculous as that may be (and it is), it’s neither here nor there for our purposes today.
My purpose today is to think deeply, with my brain that is now in more advanced stages of self-repair, and try not to think too much about certain things. Things like heat and humidity.
Yep, even the sunshine and flowers, the stuff of postcards, don’t exactly tell the whole story.
The whole story is as follows…
We reached 95 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday. That’s 35 degrees Celsius. My mobile’s weather app joked that our humidity levels were only 47%, but it was clear to me that electronics suffer delusions of grandeur, too. The wind, originating from the wet coast (not “west” coast, but indeed “wet”) didn’t even have enough heart in it to give a valiant effort, which left us climbing imaginary walls in attempt to escape the stagnation. The air is heavy and inert, refusing to move, or even budge.
And don’t forget about the sun–we sure can’t–beating down on us with such unrelenting intensity that you’ll see people walking around with umbrellas in the middle of a summer drought. Obviously it’s not raining, and during times like those, it seems like it never will again. But the umbrellas are for the sun and its strength. Our town’s latitude puts it well into Mexico if it weren’t for funky borders influenced by wayward rivers, and the further south you go, the stronger the sun, no matter what the air temperature. The latter of which, these days, is becoming more and more of an Issue.
The mosquitos come out in full force, too. This year’s generation is particularly resistant to essential oils that normally repel them (and believe me, if you’re Granola in Texas, you know which natural agents repel which bugs). Usually, all it takes is a few dabs of undiluted citronella up and down the arms and legs (onto clothing, which yes, should cover your limbs, despite the heat; anything less makes you an irresistible all-day/night buffet).
No such luck. I’ve been using citronella for years and have never seen anything like this. The little shits are suddenly impervious! It’s like they don’t care. They don’t bat an eye (or nose).
The kicker is, the mosquitos here, the Asian Tiger variety, have no qualms about clothing; they’ll bite you on the arse or in other nether-regions, right through several layers of clothing. This even includes some jeans. I wish I were kidding.
How I survive all this: the truth is that due to the adaptability of nature, I’ll have to resign myself to the fact that the winning strategy will probably be a different one every year. But some themes remain comfortably consistent. Ok, maybe not always “comfortably”.
To resist the heat, the best strategy is to begin to ramp up on the spicy-ness factor of food, right about the time winter gives way to spring, which for us, occurs about the second week of February. I start low (“mild”) and increase slowly. Temperatures can hit 80+ Fahrenheit by March and I’ve seen as high as 100 by the end of April. Usually not, but it can happen. So I don’t wait long to begin acclimating my tastebuds to spicy foods. The more spice-acclimated you are, the better you can withstand the summer temperatures.
I don’t wear sunscreen. I also don’t bake in the sun. Instead, I wear loose, light-colored, long clothing. Keeps most of the sunrays out, keeps most of the bugs off, and helps to wick away the sweat.
Clothing: I recommend light military fatigues. Seriously. Sized loosely. The light color won’t absorb sunlight like dark colors will. The material is soft and comfortable, yet usually thick enough to prevent mosquito nose penetration. Even if you get drenched (with sweat or a lawn sprinkler), they’re all cotton and will dry quickly.
I stay hydrated, with flats/cases of SoBe water from Costco stacked in my kitchen corner. I have chugged 8-10 bottles (20 ounces each) of water in one day. How I can tell if I’m properly hydrated: how often do I have to pee and how light/dark is it?
I try to make the most of the early morning and later evening hours (FunFact: so do mosquitos). Other than skeeters, each has its advantages and drawbacks. The early morning is good for getting out and about because the sun hasn’t yet had a chance to bake everything, including the air and pavement. People are fresher, not yet having weathered the cumulative toll from the day. Fewer people are out in the first place, too. But it’s the most humid part of the day, even if the temperatures are at their lowest point.
The evening is the opposite, of course. The sun has had its way with the world below all day, baking everything, but also, in so doing, drying everything out. The temperatures and humidity switch places; the temperatures are at their zenith but the humidity is at its nadir. Totally fine by me (I’ll take higher heat over higher humidity), except that at that time of day, the crowds of out-and-about sheeple have swelled (which is not quite as totally fine by me).
The consolation prize is that Miserable May doesn’t last forever. In fact, it’s about to come to an end. The June to which it gives way is a fairly mixed bag; some days are more of the same, while others begin to hint at what is to come: a trade-in of humidity in exchange for even more heat, which at least is of the “dry heat” variety in July, which reaches levels that I can only describe as “oppressive” (a word I don’t use lightly) by August, and might relent, sometimes abruptly, sometime during the second half of September.
I believe that had I not started on this health journey of mine when I did, I probably would have been “hatin’ life” right about now. I’m suddenly heat-sensitive and cold-tolerant in recent years, a complete flip-flop from my entire life before that. South Texas may be The Place To Be in so many underrated ways, but summer climate has not been one of them. Not for me, not lately.
But I have yet to come across any future fortune-telling written in stone.
I do wonder what this summer will bring, in several contexts.
I wonder what it will mean for my health.
I wonder what it will mean for my family members (the inevitable is now happening; the only unknowns are the specifics, the kind that either remain forever etched in your memory, or the kind that “don’t barely” register at all in regular consciousness).
I think that ultimately, everything will work out for the best, the way it’s supposed to. Sure, that could be a petty, cliché human construct, something I’m telling myself because that’s what I was taught to do by a well-meaning but ultimately unintelligent society. Maybe I use this mindset to fulfill some obligatory social role, to complete an expected script. Maybe I use it as a means to feel competent or to accept the future no matter what it holds or what I experience in response to what it dishes out.
Meh, who knows. If there’s no way to prove something one way or another, then anecdotal stories and what we choose to believe may be all there is left.
I think that a test of a true open mind could be the degree of willingness to accept–and make cognitive room for–that which human beings are still too primitive/unadvanced to measure.
Wow, the train of thought took an odd and unanticipated turn down a pretty scenic route. Hell, it might only be late-morning here, but maybe I’m already exhausted, perhaps from fending off my cat and convincing him that yes, he did indeed get freshly fed very recently so no, he doesn’t need another serving of food just yet.
Or maybe it’s the relaxing effect of the supposedly-mosquito-repelling essential oils that actually accomplished surprisingly little, except maybe to induce mild sedation.
Or maybe I’m actually covertly dehydrated because I’ve been sweating probably liters of water in the 2-3 hours a day I’ve spent walking outside.
Probably, my brain is still doing its thing, repairing its structures and rewiring its circuitry. My sleep this past week has been the best it’s been since December of 2009.
Yes, I haven’t slept this well since December of 2009. That’s almost 7.5 years.
It feels wonderful.
I had forgotten just what it felt like!
Hell, I might sleep through the last few days of Miserable May. At least then I might set a new pattern. I don’t know what to call it–Miraculous May? Magnificent May? Mountain-Moving May? Mellow May? Merry May?
Can’t make decisions very well just yet, but I have the feeling that that’s next on my brain’s rewiring plan.
I’ll just let it do its thing. I’ve learned not to ask lol 😉