It was a balmy 82 degrees last night when my plane landed in Tulsa, and the high yesterday had only been 86 which, you gotta admit, is pretty decent for summer in Oklahoma. I enjoy being surprised in this way at this time of year in this part of the nation. Texas, where I grew up, and Oklahoma, where I have spent a lot of time, are both notorious for getting a running start on summer beginning in late April or early May and not letting up until the end of September, where sticking your head out the window feels like you’ve just stuck your head into a dryer full of still-damp Levis.
The air seems to disappear during this time. For years, in Dallas, I was sure Texas sold all its air to another state and the humidity and heat created its own particular miasma, rather like a wet diaper, and just about as pleasant. Ugh.
I once shared a motel room in Houston in July with far too many people, all of us there to watch a softball tournament. I wound up sleeping on the floor and awoke in the middle of the night unable to breathe. OH, I thought, OH, MY HEAVENS, THEY’VE BREATHED UP ALL THE AIR – THERE IS NO AIR IN HERE! I rolled over onto my belly and commandoed myself over to the door in the darkness, sliding my hand up to the door handle, anticipating oxygen and cool night air and relief of some sort. I cracked the door open enough to stick my big head outside and was instantly stung above my eyebrows by 3 mosquitoes who figured they’d just arrived at a late-night drive-thru, PLUS, there was no air outside, either! I pushed myself back into the room and lay on my belly, panting into the musty carpet and thinking, as I often do, I’M SCREWED. Eventually, I resigned myself to my fate, and, waiting to die, fell asleep. In the morning, I was still alive, still sweaty, still panting, but more determined than ever to find out just who was sucking all of the air out of my state through some giant pneumatic tube hidden somewhere.
I searched for years, upending every suspicious-looking rock I ran across, ready to shout – AHAAAAA! and blow the whistle on somebody for this offense. I never did find out. I moved away to Oregon instead where the summers are not as long and not nearly as intense. There might be some hot days but it always cools off at night in the Pacific Northwest and I like being able to sleep with the windows open, yes, even when skunks come up in the yard late at night to dig for grubs in the lawn. I savor the sounds of the night I can hear at certain times of the year, like the bullfrog who shows up in the pool in the spring, croaking madly for a potential girlfriend. And, of course, what’s a lovely morning in Oregon without the sounds of a hundred birds right outside? Just think of it – all of that beauty and wonder because I get to leave the windows open. What could be better than that?
All of this focus, by me, on the weather, of course, has me thinking about the young children and babies being held as “detainees” by our government along the Texas border in the broiling heat. FOX news right-winger, Laura Ingraham, tried to spin it all as their being at “summer camp” in describing these children and babies who were taken from their parents by people operating under direct orders from the Trump administration. So, Laura, here’s the deal: I challenge you to go and spend a week with these kids in 100 degree heat, in tents and cages, and then tell me if it still feels like they’re at “summer camp.” Because, I tell you what, Ms. Ingraham: UNLESS ALL THOSE CHILDREN MAKE IT BACK TO THEIR FAMILIES – SAFE, SANE AND UNHARMED – KNOWING HOW TO PADDLE A CANOE AND TIE NAUTICAL KNOTS, I’M CALLING BULLSHIT ON YOU AND YOUR STUPID COMMENT. IF YOU DON’T HAVE A HEART, DON’T REMIND US. Ugh. JS