Bring on the heated humidity of summer

Published 9:40 am Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Column: Tales From Exit 22


It’s a time for torturing grass.

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It’s summer.

The calendar doesn’t agree with me. That’s OK. The weather doesn’t always agree with me either.

School is out. It’s summer.

During my formative years, summer arrived when the root beer stand opened.

Memorial Day is a worthy starting point for summer even though summer doesn’t officially begin until June. June leaves me disMayed.

Summer sounds like flip-flops, screen doors slamming shut and squeaking playground swings. Wisdom decrees that flip-flops be kept out of any zip code containing a lawn mower. Hot summer nights are filled with cricket song. I take the screens off the windows. They attract flies.

On a day featuring weather miserable enough to make even those who enjoy miserable weather miserable, I found myself safely ensconced in a hotel room. I turned on the TV in the hopes that it would put me to sleep. The second channel I turned to was better than the first.

The first was the hotel channel, highlighting the highlights of the hotel. The second channel offered an episode of “The Twilight Zone” titled, “The Midnight Sun.” It’s the most parched 30 minutes in TV history. This classic chronicles the world nearing an end as Earth leaves its orbit and veers toward the sun.

A radio announcer’s voice said, “Ladies and gentlemen, tomorrow you can fry eggs on sidewalks, heat up soup in the ocean and get help from wandering maniacs if you choose.” The show was set in a meager apartment in the city, but it skillfully evoked the sensation of a roasted extinction. Rod Serling ended the program by saying, “The poles of fear. The extremes of how Earth might conceivably be doomed. Minor exercise in the care and feeding of a nightmare. Respectfully submitted by all the thermometer-watchers in ‘The Twilight Zone.’”

I listened to “Hot Fun in the Summertime” sung by Sly and the Family Stone. It’s an anthem to days hot enough to soften rocks. Some claim that summer is three days in July. I think we get our fair share. When we experience a heat wave, we should wave back. On hot days, the boyhood me left doors open so the heat could escape.

If only we could save a couple of hot summer days and spend them in a gelid January.

Eva Cassidy is one of my favorite singers. I listen to her sing “Fever” with even more appreciation than I once listened to Peggy Lee’s rendition. This song has been performed by innumerable singers and has inspired countless cold showers.

The neighbors had a rain barrel when I was a boy listening to Peggy Lee. I found it intriguing. Almost as intriguing as the wedding present we got from one of my wife’s uncles. It’s a hula dancer with a clock in her belly. We were registered at the Unwanted Gifts Emporium. I think the clock works, but I’ve been too bashful to wind it.

Back to the rain barrel. Rainwater ran from the roof of the house into the barrel. Its purpose was to provide water for the watering of flowers and vegetable gardens. It made a swell home for aquatic critters. There was a good population of wigglers in the barrel. They jerked their bodies through the water and grew up to be mosquitoes.

Those wigglers (mosquito larvae) rose to the water’s surface where they obtained oxygen through a breathing tube called a siphon. They hung in the water with their heads down and their mouths filtering in anything small enough to eat. The wigglers fed upon algae, bacteria, fungi, plankton and other microorganisms. My father told me that the hotter the temperature, the faster the wigglers developed. He called the dragonflies that fed upon mosquitoes, “mosquito hawks.” I heard others refer to them as “skeeter eaters.” The rain barrel was a mosquito farm.

Summer can be windy. That’s why it’s important to carry wind chimes at all times. Summer weather is muggy, sultry, sweltering. My mother called such steamy days “close.” I asked her what that meant. She told me that the weather was close. I believed her. It was all around us. A summer day can be as sticky as an all-day sucker at noon.

Remember, if you rearrange the letters in “summer,” it spells “humid.”

You’re likely wondering how I got “humid” by rearranging the letters in “summer.”

I traded the s, m, e and r from “summer” to “holiday” for the h, i, d and a letter to be named later.

Happy humid.


Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.