Mind Over Meteorology
How to stop worrying and learn to love the heat.
You may have noticed in your travels throughout our corner of the state that every once in a while, there are other humanoids sharing the terrain. I'm all for welcoming new pilgrims to God's country, and truly believe that a stranger is just a compadre whom you haven't had a friendly barroom fight with yet. A few of these folks are suffering upon the horns of a mighty meteorological dilemma, however, as they profess a big love for the great Southwest, but haven't quite adjusted to the vagaries of the inherent summer heat. Some of these pilgrims buy high-powered air conditioners and convert their domiciles into ersatz meat lockers. Others slather their naked bodies with ice cream and sit under a ceiling fan. Perhaps I can share a few secrets of beating the New Mexico heat with these sad, wilting petunias.
When the number of days that the mercury breaks 100 degrees begins to resemble a broiled advent calendar, you can be pretty certain that spring is over in New Mexico. This seasonal shift is usually evidenced by things melting on the dashboard of your truck and all of your landscaping dying a horrible death. There are two options you have at this point: You either go into the shade, or go into denial.
Now, I don't have anything against the shade — it makes a splendid place to set back and enjoy a frosty cocktail after a long day's work. If you actively seek shelter from the cruel sun, however, then you have allowed it to beat you without a fight. Do you want to be known as a quitter, or a fighter? I firmly believe that if you refuse to accept the fact that it's hotter than a snake's derriere in a wagon rut, then the heat has no power over you. In fact, you can use it to your advantage.
There are a whole host of activities that you can reserve for times like this, when it's so hot that the birds have to use potholders to pull the worms out of the ground. For example, it's a splendid time to give the blankets and comforters from the bedroom an annual washing. They will dry on the clothesline in seven minutes. (Any longer than that, they might catch fire, so set your timer accordingly.)
It's the perfect time to have a picnic, because ants don't come out in the heat of the day. Plus, you can have a cookout without having to fool with the charcoal: Just lay your hamburger on the hood of the truck, throw on some pickles and onions, and you're eating high on the hog! In addition, I can think of no better time to work on your farmer's tan; let's face it, the chicks dig red arms, necks and fish-belly-white everything-else.
This is not to imply you shouldn't make some concessions to the convectional forces of the desert. As my dermatologist was explaining to me while excavating yet another large lump of sun-meat from my skin last year, "You're going to die if you don't stay out of the sun." Apparently, medical school gives doctors a great sense of humor along with their medical degree. He's always making jokes like that! But it does get tiring having skin that resembles a rotisserie chicken in a grocery store, so I have made some adjustments during this warm weather.
I found a new hat with a brim as wide as the deck of an aircraft carrier. The only way the sun can burn my ears or face is if I insist on standing on my head all day long in the sun, which is a circumstance that rarely takes place. I wear dark sunglasses outside, but this isn't new. I have always worn sunglasses so the ladies can't see where I'm looking. I carefully moderate my body temperature and hydration when out in the sunlight with careful administration of cold beer.
I got a truck with air conditioning a few years back to see what all the hoopla was about. It made a funny smell and a lot of noise, and it really didn't work that well. I later found out that I was supposed to roll up the windows, but then I couldn't feel the warm kiss of the desert wind upon my face. Besides, trucks have roofs to give the driver shade, so using an air conditioner just seems ostentatious.
As stalwart desert rats, we are all familiar with the large glass jar of sun tea on the patio, but it's time to set your sights a little higher. Wipe out the jar and load it up with meat, potatoes and chile and make yourself some sun stew. Think of the energy you'll save when you slow-cook your posole al fresco, or melt down a block of cheese to make solar queso for your next social gathering. Heck, you don't even have to wash the jar afterward; just set it outside and let the brutal heat bake off the residue, and the fire ants will take care of the rest in the morning.
Does your roof leak? (How would you even know?) If you need to work on the roof, now is the time because the tar will melt on its own. You can break off chunks of tar in the morning and set them down where you suspect the leaks are. By noon, the tar will adopt the viscosity of water and flow into the suspected holes and cracks with the direction of gravity. The only potential problem is that it might get hot enough to catch fire and drip molten flame into your house, which will likely have an adverse affect on your home-insurance premiums.
Embrace our arid, hellish summer climate! The sensation of your shirt sticking to you back sweat is refreshing, and the painful bite of a sunburn is like popcorn for the soul. Instead of scurrying away from the heat, embrace it like a long-lost friend, and welcome broiling into your daily routine! It may be the kind of heat the singes the linings in your lungs and makes your eyeballs crack, but hey, at least it's a dry heat!