Chill out and embrace the heat
Jason Raish Illustration
You know that song: “Summer time, and the living’s easy....” Well, George Gershwin, who wrote that song, obviously never lived in south Louisiana.
Summertime is anything but easy here. In fact, it can be downright impossible. In the time it takes to walk from your front door to your car in the morning, you can find sweat rings on your shirt, blouse or dress. And by the time you read this, the inferno will be in full stride.
But taking a pessimistic view towards summer and/or heat in New Orleans is ill-placed. Yes, we bitch about it ad nauseam, but have you ever considered the alternative?
I lived in Madison, Wisconsin, for nearly five years. The weather there is diametrically opposed to the climate of New Orleans. Residents there suffer through an eight-month winter, whereas we contend with an eight-month summer here.
The nuances of autumn and spring are come and gone in a flash in both places. And many folks would have you believe that both of these extreme climate conditions are equally insufferable. I would object. Here’s why:
Let’s say it’s a Thursday night in February and trash pick-up is Friday morning. As you are about to crawl into bed it suddenly dawns on you that you neglected to put your trash out by the curb-side. So there you are, in your boxers and T-shirt faced with a conundrum.
You’re too tired and stressed to go through the effort of getting fully clothed and putting on shoes and a coat and such; you just want to get it over with as fast as possible so you can hit the sack.
Since it’s late at night you figure no one will see you if you make a quick dash from your garage down the driveway to the curb and back. So you slip out the back door and, as you begin your miserable task, you hear the door close and click behind you. Suddenly you realize: You just locked yourself out of your house.
If you were in New Orleans, you would then drag the garbage down to the curb and then run back and sit on the back steps until your spouse or partner realizes you have been missing from the bedroom for an inordinate period of time and eventually comes looking for you.
Worst case scenario, you knock on the neighbors’ door. This being a city where most everyone shares some degree of social intimacy with their neighbors and the sight of a half-dressed acquaintance carries less shock value than most communities, chances are they’ll invite you in for a cold Abita while you figure how to solve your conundrum.
This scenario presents a time consuming hassle, but something you can laugh about the next day.
Now imagine it’s February in Madison. If that door closes and locks behind you, stranding you outside, you are in an entirely different kind of pickle. Basically, you have approximately 45 seconds to secure shelter or you die.
Put in such starkly contrasting in terms, it’s a no-brainer which region is more conducive to human habitation. Particularly if you are like me - prone to locking yourself out, misplacing your cellphone, losing your car keys, etc.; generally prone to taking shortcuts but never fully thinking through the possible consequences and ramifications.
So as the summer heat begins firing up the heat index in the coming days and the unyielding sun begins to burn holes in your retinas and your soul and your will to live nearly slips away, remember: Things could be worse. The grass isn’t always necessarily greener on the other side. Particularly in a place where you can’t see the grass for more than half the year because it’s covered with snow.
Think of the differences. Driving with the window down or warming up your car for 10 minutes and scraping ice off your windshield before you can even think about driving somewhere. Treacherous icy roads versus treacherous potholes. Ceiling fans versus space heaters.
Chilled Pimm’s Cups versus hot chocolate.
Snowmobiles versus four wheelers. Ice fishing through a hole cut with a chainsaw versus wide open waters stretching all the way to the Gulf and beyond. Gore-Tex and Uggs versus Bermudas and a shoes-optional lifestyle.
Canned herring versus boiled crawfish.
Enough said. The lesson here is: Quit your bitching as the dog days kick off. Keep your head about you in the heat of the night. Count your blessings.
Embrace the inferno.
It’s summertime and you’re living in the Big Easy.