Some like it hot


‘A lifetime of summers spent sweetly sweltering’

The Dude and I were sharing an outdoor dinner with some Fabulous Friends (thank you again, A and T!) when our hostess pointed out a passel of birds doing a parabolic dance in the sky.

“Oh, those are swallows,” Dude Man informed us. “They do that swarming thing to get ready to migrate. It’s a Sign of Fall.”

“Oh noooooo!” A and I immediately groaned. “Not Fall. We’re so not ready for Fall!

Hot Family Reunion. My Favorite Sister and I keeping cool out on a porch

See, I have friends who pine for autumn leaves and who count the days until Christmas. Friends who Hate Being Hot. But A and I fall (pun intended) into that group of People Who Believe Summer Can Never Be Long Enough.

Hot Recreation. That’s Teenage Me (and is that my Mom??) enjoying the heated pleasures of Jantzen’s Resort

Because I adore it, I’ve written several odes to summer. You can catch up with summer reunions in “Looks like we got ourselves a Hoo-Hah!”, summer foods in “Great Aunts and Glorified Rice” and “To Hell with Kale”, summer jobs in “Those Were Banner Days Indeed” and “They Didn’t Do This for Fun, You Know”. And if just plain good ole summer nostalgia is your thing, check out “The Days are Long, but the Season is Short” and “Remembrance of Watermelon Past”. Or just keep on reading.

Hot Pose. This family portrait, complete with gleaming sweaty heads, was taken in a sweltering trailer by an itinerant photographer

I grew up in Southern Illinois, which means that I was fully prepped for Summer and its attendant heat. Because, no we didn’t have AC. And yes, it was super-hot. So hot I can remember almost burning my hand on the refrigerator handle. And hotly and restlessly tossing on top of the covers to the sound of the box fan that was set into the window of the upstairs landing. It ran “backwards” — with the blades facing out — so that, in theory anyway, it sucked hot air out of the extremely suffocating upstairs bedrooms so that the (relatively) cooler outside air would breeze on in.

Cats on a Hot Boat Roof. “Cooling off” on the Sir Launch-A-Lot (yes, that was my Dad’s pontoon boat’s real name) on Carlyle Lake

My parents, when they remodeled their house sometime in the Eighties, added a porch where they could sleep outside in the summer. They did this even though they had, by then, installed air conditioning that worked (sort of) on the main floor. They really didn’t like using it very much. I can remember visiting and Mom saying, “You can turn on the air conditioning — if you want.

Hot Birthday. My Dad accepting tributes on his Day — and on his sleeping couch. It was only June and already too-short-shorts sweltering

But most of the time, instead of retreating to the confines of the air-conditioned living room, we stayed cool (or somewhat so) by staying outside. This was the way Life was Lived in Summertime in Southern Illinois. People went outside. As kids, we’d run around outside throwing persimmons at each other until Mom called us in for supper. Then, after supper, we’d run around outside catching lightning bugs.

Even as adults, my siblings and I would sit outside in lawn chairs eating takeout church chicken and clutching beers kept cold in foam holders emblazoned with Dad’s engineering-company logo. (Only in Southern Illinois would beer-holder branding be a such a wise marketing choice.)

Hot Bros. The Dude and Youngest Brother Doug enjoy a couple of cold ones on board the Sir Launch-A-Lot. Note HMG beer holders in addition to sweaty bare chests

Speaking of which, some Southern Illinoisans would place lawn chairs in the back of their pickup trucks, along with a cooler of beer, load it up with their friends and then drive around town.

Hot truck. My Dad had one, but I don’t recall any lawn chairs in the back. At least not when I was visiting

Sometimes, when we were outside, we jumped into water. When I was a kid, it was the municipal pool. (Oh those days of biking home, damp and smelling of chlorine, chomping on a frozen Milky Way.) When I was older, it was Carlyle Lake, where my Dad kept his pontoon boat, the Sir Launch-A-Lot. (Honest. There was a nameplate.)

So, by the time I grew up and moved East, I was ready for whatever Summer could throw at me. To escape the City and its fry-an-egg-on-it sidewalks and suffocate-down-there subways, we come on out here to Amagansett. Where we still cope with the heat the old-fashioned way. By going outside.

Hot on Deck. The Dude and The Child chilling at the Little House

Which is where I’m going right now. See you — sweaty but happy — next week.

Amagansett, New York. August 2018

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24 thoughts on “Some like it hot

  1. We used to complain about the humidity growing up in Ohio; we had no idea. It’s like swimming through the air here in MD but I still love to get out in it. Love nothing more than the bike ride home from the pool (haven’t tried the frozen Milky Way but will now Have to!). We do that too! Enjoy the last of it!

    • “like swimming through the air” — wish I’d thought of this oh-so-apt phrase! Yes, you should definitely try a frozen Milky Way. Just don’t break your teeth on it!

  2. I don’t mind the heat, but this midwestern humidity melts me. I’m a desert breed (Puerto Rican/Irish family are baffled) and incompatible with your weird, wet air.

    Sorry, count me among those who pine for autumn; bold colors and wood smoke and crisp evenings more my thing.

    • I hear you, Dear One! It is indeed soppy and sweaty in the Midwest. Pretty damply humidly hot here lately in the Northeast as well. Beaucoup de mold in the outdoor shower, and who knows where else (!)

  3. Fabulous memories and photos, Alice!
    I grew up in Wisconsin and remember those same sweltering summers with no air conditioning. I didn’t learn about the ice block in the cooler in front of the fan trick until I started blogging!! That would have helped a ton.

    • Ah, Susie. The ole ‘ice block in front of the fan’ trick! Even after I moved to New York I didn’t have AC. I used to take a(nother) shower before bed, then lie in bed , starkers and damp, with a big ole box fan aimed at my supine self. Thank the gods of blogging no photos exist (!)

    • Hello there, Fellow Lizard! Me too. I’d much rather be too hot than too (brrrr) cold. And hey — that ceramic chicken story is just too funny! I had an experience once with a rubber chicken. But no blood was involved.

  4. Alice, an other enjoyable piece that conjures up memories of my summers in Amagansett ….outside, constantly outside, sprawled out in sleeping bags at night, back lawn watermelon eating daytime (Cousin Jack loved the seed spitting), and causing all kinds of tomfoolery around town or at the beach. When rain forced us indoors, we literally hung from the beams in the family room. But the Sun never stopped shining on us rowdy rascals that we were. And we never stopped running….everywhere. Summer heat be damned.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your memories! (And, BTW, did you know that my Extremely Gorgeous My-Side-Of-The-Family Niece is named ‘Madeleine’???) Anyway. It’s funny how heat never bothered us when we were kids. We were all having waaaaay too much fun to care about the temperature xoxoxo

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