Beating the Heat

Staying inside the air conditioning and away from the sizzling heat isn’t my idea of much of a vacation.

Nevertheless, because the temps were so high (mid-90s, at least) and the humidity matched, that’s just what we did during our recent trek to south Mississippi.

We in the Midwest region of this country are familiar with high temps and humidity. We suffer through them for a few days, then joyfully praise the Creator when a welcome cold front slams through, reducing the heat and stickiness.

But some sections of our land haven’t been as fortunate. People in Texas and Oklahoma have endured weeks of heat; in fact, the entire South has had day after day of scorching temps, punctuated by popup thunderstorms, which refuse to cool things down or dump the prayed-for rain.

Makes for drought conditions, leading to things like wildfires and a ban on fireworks. Bummer.

There’s something refreshing about our Midwest summers. Sure, daytime temps get up there in the 90s, but like as not, the evenings cool down. People can talk walks after supper and even open their windows at night!

South Mississippi wasn’t like that. Far from it. We’d go to bed at night, and the temperature would be in the 80s; waking up the next morning, it was still in the 80s (and if it’s that hot at 7 a.m., you know it’s going to be unbearable by noon!).

It’s the kind of heat that sucks the breath right out of you the moment you venture outside and drenches you with sweat by the time you go back in.

My poor Sheltie in his long, silky coat, truly suffered. He’d go outside to potty, then race back in, claiming a spot on the cold tile floor or next to the bathtub or in front of the air conditioning vents.

He’d give me the look that begged, “C’mon, Mom, find the blasted zipper in this fur-suit and get it off me!”

I noticed a lot of people on the beach near the Gulf waters, where at least a nice breeze makes the weather more tolerable. Swimming pools and shopping malls also are welcome diversions. But not for dogs.

Somebody should build them a water park!

Of Tar balls and Heat

Now that I’ve just about caught up from being on vacation, I can write about my experiences.

We traveled to Gulfport, MS. That’s all the way down south to the Gulf of Mexico.

Right there where BP’s tar balls were coming ashore.

No, I didn’t see any. In fact, what I saw were pristine, sandy beaches, with brand-new palm trees, piers, roadways, and new construction.

The Coast has come a long way from the state it was in five years ago after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the place.

Oh, sure, there’s much to be done — like getting the residents back, getting the businesses back, getting the hope and joy and spirit of fun back.

But, fellow travelers, don’t expect to see slime all over the beaches.

It ain’t there.

Don’t expect to find a wealth of homes and businesses sprouting up waterside, either.

The Mississippi Coast used to boast fabulous antebellum homes with sprawling lawns, profuse flowers, immense live oaks, and splendid views of the water. Home after home lined Highway 90, from the eastern state line to the west.

No more.

Katrina took care of that.

The owners of such “mansions” either moved farther inland or abandoned the area entirely.

What’s there now pales in comparison.

“Homes on stilts” or “hurricane-proof” structures are the wave of the present, thanks to more stringent construction laws.

Which were needed.

But it’s still sad to see.

Many of the restaurants and other businesses, too, relocated, meaning you have to work a bit harder and drive a bit farther to find your favorite places. But, as I was told, there’s no recession on the Coast when it comes to food — everybody, it seems, is eating out and enjoying it!

What I wasn’t prepared for was the heat and humidity.

You expect July to be hot. It’s hot in Central Illinois; it’s hot out East; shoot, it’s hot in Russia!

But this was beastly heat, the kind that sucks the energy right out of you, the kind that’s flat-out dangerous to be in.

So I stayed inside. With the air conditioning. And felt sorry for those who had to be out in the heat.