We are smack dab in the middle of summer, a time we’ve looked forward to since summer 2020. Dude, it’s hot.
I’m a huge baby in the summertime, always schvitzing like a vilda chaya. I’m a head sweater, and I don’t like how it feels or how it looks. Sometimes, I think I’d prefer to be a back sweater, or a pit sweater, because damp hair isn’t a very good look for me. I have to accept it and realize that, yes, people sweat when it’s hot, that’s just the way it goes. It also shows I am officially becoming old, because many of us equate “old people” with “talking about the weather constantly.” Here I go.
As I sit in my air-conditioned home office, I see, through the window, my very ambitious and handy neighbors tackling outdoor projects in the heat and humidity. Today they are washing rocks. My laziness steers me toward a more natural look, allowing any available rain to wash my rocks.
The neighbors are wearing hats and work gloves and have a command center under a couple of those portable shade tent things. It looks like the site of an archaeological dig right here in west St. Louis County. If they dig deep enough, they might find my motivation. Hopefully, they will return it to me. It’s probably buried deeper than my teenage feelings swept under the rug of my childhood bedroom, which I assume will be uncovered someday by a future teen overthinking seemingly huge dilemmas she will one day realize were trivial.
Last month we were in beautiful Scottsdale, Ariz., for a family vacation during that region’s dangerous heat wave. The temperature reached 120 degrees one day. It’s a dry heat.
I saw a group of teenagers, some wearing jeans. Outside. Willingly. I was wearing shorts and a tank top, which is something I wear only on vacation because nobody knows me there. (Yeah, right, like I would go sleeveless in public locally.)
I First World complained about the sweltering heat while in our rental car with the glorious AC blasting directly into my face while actually waving air with my hands toward the back seat, screaming to my sons, “Are you getting enough air?”
I knew I would turn into my mother one day, but I did not think it would be during the Great Phoenix Heat Wave of 2021, an unlikely moment where l’dor v’dor and global warming coincided. It was kind of like that Reese’s commercial in the 1970s in which two people collide on the street and the guy’s chocolate bar falls into the girl’s jar of peanut butter. (If anyone can tell me why the girl is walking down the street with an open jar of peanut butter, eating it with her fingers, please let me know. I want to figure out how to get paid to do that.)
Watching the neighbors sweat out their electrolytes in the blazing sun in an effort to get the cleanest rocks on the block, I think about all the activities I wouldn’t want to do in this weather. I am thankful we have people who are willing to take care of these important tasks and wonder how much water they chug throughout the day.
My top three no-thank-you hot weather gigs include roofer, horse stable cleaner and road construction crew member laying asphalt. Pass the Gatorade.
My older son, however, isn’t bothered by the heat. He happily lives without AC for a month at Jewish sleep-away camp, also known as “the best month of his life.” Most everyone I know went to Jewish sleep-away camp. I did not, so I learn what it’s all about through my kid’s stories and photos that the camp sends each day.
There are lake activities, art, music, hiking, ropes courses, swimming, freedom and friendship. The kids are learning valuable life lessons they probably won’t realize are valuable for years to come. All while getting their Jewish on.
Forget the heat, it’s way too much fun to even notice. For many young adults, and some not so young, they work at camp. That’s an actual, coveted, hot weather job. They get paid to hang with the fun-loving kids, enjoy the activities, spearhead a few acute homesickness therapy sessions and walk away knowing they changed the lives of dozens of young people over the course of a few weeks. They were sweaty, but it didn’t matter.
I’m guessing that tomorrow, my neighbors will feel incredible pride over their clean rocks while they tackle another impressive project, maybe hand-building a deck or pulling weeds in the heavy humid air. They won’t mind the heat. Lucky.
You can probably guess that in a few months, I will be complaining about the cold weather, wondering how valet parking attendants and butchers in a meat locker are able to deal with it.
I’m thankful to live in a place with four seasons. It allows me to complain in a fresh way every few months.
Monthly columnist Amy Fenster Brown is married to Jeff and has two teenage sons, Davis and Leo. She volunteers for several Jewish not-for-profit groups. Fenster Brown is an Emmy Award-winning TV news writer and counts time with family and friends, talking and eating peanut butter among her hobbies.