Gary Brown: Talking heat melts our minds

Gary Brown GateHouse News Service

"Being out in that heat for two weeks definitely drains your energy." Former American soccer player Cobi Jones said that.

It's not exactly like quoting an eloquent speaker or a skilled writer. But I've been out in 95-degree weather myself the last few days, so I'm feeling a bit wilted. Anybody with an observation about heat or humidity is sounding good to me.

When you spend day after day in the heat, your head can get hot, and I think your mind melts. You are left to let others compose your thoughts.

"What dreadful hot weather we have!" English novelist Jane Austen supposedly said or wrote - I wasn't there - some 200 years ago. "It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance."

I prefer how Jane Austen put it. When I tried to provide a word picture for the weather lately, I've come up with such sentences as, "I played golf in 93-degree weather this afternoon, and I sure did sweat a lot."

Stop complaining

Though the heat dulls our thought processes and makes us want to sit in the shade to ponder - well, nothing - we still continue to rattle on about it with disdain.

I know weather has dominated the conversations of my friends and relatives. Letters, emails, telephone calls and chance-meeting conversations have started with weather reports. "Sure is hot today!"

Why, "it's so hot ..." people will quip, and I'm sure you have heard enough of these sayings that you could fill in the punch lines. For some reason, eggs have been historically associated with hot weather.

"It's so hot out there that you could fry an egg on the ..." sidewalk, or car hood, or window sill, or maybe even "the palm of your hand," my dad used to say when he'd come inside from some extended stay in the heat.

My personal favorite was the one dad dredged up from his days on the family farm.

"You think this is hot?" he'd ask his children when they begged him to go swimming. "Why I can remember summers when we had to feed the chickens crushed ice just so they wouldn't lay hard-boiled eggs."

I was disconcertingly old before I stopped believing that. Of course, it was very hot every time my father repeated that claim, so my thinking process always was slowed when I heard it.

And, generally we headed off to the lake moments later, and nothing would have been gained from any disagreement started in the back seat of a station wagon that was traveling in the desired direction.

No sense whining

My mother whined little about the weather.

"I'll remind you of that next winter," she would tell her children whenever one of us was unkind in our reference to some portion of summer - a season that we should have been thankful for no matter what the thermometer said because of the freedom it afforded us.

Where weather was concerned, Mom was a kindred spirit of John Ruskin, an English art critic and a "social thinker," who gave some stifling heat more credit than it deserved.

"There is really no such thing as bad weather," Ruskin once observed, "only different kinds of good weather."

The rest of us, during this summer-long heat wave, are more likely to quote English writer Sydney Smith.

"Heat, ma'am! It was so dreadful here that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones."