Remembering Summer

Everyone used to look forward to the longest days of the year. Not so much lately. 

Of course optimists like me still love summer. But it’s getting harder, and much hotter.

            Early in January 2024 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported last year was “by far” the warmest for the world’s temperature in nearly 200 years. Check their website.

            Most of the Middle West had long stretches of 100 degree days. Many places had persistent drought.

            Luckily I had an all-expense trip to Vietnam some 60 years ago. As a correspondent and editor for an Army newspaper I traveled into the Mekong River delta, one of the hottest parts of Asia in many ways back then.

            I visited vegetable markets that opened at 5 in the morning. We were providing security against the Viet Cong and also buying veggies for American mess halls scattered in a few nearby bases.

            This is where I learned what every farmer knows. Get started early and take a long break with a good dinner in the middle of the day.

            But this isn’t going to bring back summer. June and September used to be pleasant. Now they’re likely to average around 90 degrees+ in most American urban areas. 

            July and August? Lots of 100 degree days everywhere make summer’s heart unbearable.

            Of course this isn’t predictable. The weather has become more unreliable, storms stronger and drought longer. This is costing us all because extreme weather has made insurance rates climb higher than inflation.

            It would be great if our politicians could agree that something needs to be done. Most Americans now see climate change as an unfortunate fact of life.   

            Until scientists and policy makers can agree what can be done to reverse these trends, my suggestion is partly to develop a tropical mind set as I saw in South East Asia. Get up early, try to find a space for a small garden and grow things that can stand heat… peppers, okra, greens and cukes maybe. Start a cooperative garden group and work together to take care of your crop and eat healthy.

            Don’t buy the biggest air conditioner possible. Keep the heat out. Hang out at the library, read and surf. Save your money. Try fans.

            One of the best reason to be thrifty is to be able to leave your home for a week, two or longer. Go as far north as possible and escape the heat. Canada’s a lot cooler than us in many ways.

            A few years ago I went to northern Ontario to fish and hike. Sioux Lookout, a small city with lots of First Nations people, seemed like a neat jumping off point for lodges and camping areas.

            Already we’re welcoming climate refugees from various parts of the world. Why not join the change?

            Can you escape the rat race of over achievement and constant work by finding ways to get in a siesta? Napping and meditating can be energizing and enlightening.

            The most important thing you can do: find and support politicians who advocate realistic policies to reverse climate change. This is an election year. Do what you can to demand realism from our government!

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