With a record-breaking 300 straight days of temperatures of 110 degrees or more, East Texans have learned to cope and even thrive in what has become an arid desert. Here are some methods our family and others have used to “beat the heat.”
- Grilling on the deck. You might think it’s too hot to grill, and it is, but I discovered you don’t need any propane. Simply let your grill preheat in the Texas sun for ten minutes, and you can cook perfect steaks in no time flat. Two minutes on each side for a six-inch thick steak, and it will be beautifully charred—sealing in the flavor—and cooked just right throughout. I do recommend you stand by with an ACME industrial fire extinguisher in case your steak ignites like a marshmallow on a stick and you have to eat cereal for dinner.
- Going to the lake. We love to take our ski boat on the lake, but since I can now drive down to the edge of the boat ramps, launching the boat is impossible. Well, it might be possible to launch, but our boat and trailer combo is older and requires you to drive the boat up onto the trailer, so we would have to leave it. Even when the water levels are normal, getting the boat on the trailer has been a boon for our marriage counselor because when my wife, Mary, and I take the boat out by ourselves, it is the closest we come to appearing on America’s Most Wanted. After backing the trailer down the boat ramp until 50% of our truck is submerged, Mary takes the wheel, and I assume my position—one hand on the bow, one hand on the trailer latch. Then we communicate:
Me: “Did I say go?”
Mary: “You looked like you were going to.”
Me: “Back up and let’s try it again. The thirteenth time is a charm.”
Mary: “Don’t get that tone with me! I didn’t scratch the boat loading it.”
Me, with extreme patience and tenderness: “Just do it again. Go! Wait! Go! Stop! Now a little more. Okay, back up, and let’s try it again. The fourteenth time is a charm.”
Mary: “I have never liked you.”
Now, thanks to the summer heat, we drive around the lake in air-conditioned comfort and remark how it looks like a petrified forest for children.
- Not mowing. It is a scientific fact that three-foot high crabgrass provides just enough shade to make the difference between your new St. Augustine sod turning into brittle straw or being a sickly yellow. I do not touch the lawn mower because I care for my lawn.
- Going to the movies. Mary and I seldom go to the movies, but this summer has been different. It has been a good excuse to get out of the house, where our air handling unit seems to lose the battle with the thermometer and to get away from the crabgrass. We usually reserve our theatre time for true classics that require the big screen and high-fidelity sound—like Star Wars and any James Bond film. We are clever because we go in the afternoon and get discounted tickets to spend $45 on two drinks and a bag of popcorn. I figure it is cheaper than cooling the house for four hours, and we’ve seen some pretty good movie trailers—after two hours of nail-biting previews, the audience is primed and poised for the main attraction. (I remember double features with distant fondness. It required less emotional investment than the 32 high-speed, high-intensity snippets of coming attractions we are bombarded with today. Apparently, the heat has made me grumpy.)
- Hoping it rains Labor Day weekend. Funny how a little scarcity helps us appreciate things we take for granted. The weather people, who are never wrong, predict rain this weekend. I am hoping and praying they are right. I can put off mowing for another day.
August 30, 2011