This past month was a bit of a reading slump for me, something that seemed endemic across the blogosphere. It’s summer, and everyone’s going on vacation, working in their gardens, laying by the pool. There were just a lot more non-reading things going on. And then the heat struck.
We’ve had heat indexes in Indiana in the 115 range for the past week or so. I know in other parts of the country, this is just another July day. No big deal. I understand that in places like Florida and Arizona and Texas, you’re probably inclined to laugh at our heat advisories and call us pansies. That’s okay.
As a sociologist, I understand that weather, like everything else in the world, is socially constructed. What is hot? What is cold? Hot and cold are whatever you say they are. So for the person born and raised in Miami, a day that dips into the 40s is cold. For someone in Maine, it’s balmy. Weather is all about your expectations.
When I lived in Mississippi, I was a college student, so perhaps there’s an additional explanatory variable there (i.e., college students will do many stupid and crazy things), but I lived in an upstairs apartment with no central air conditioning. We survived with window units, but not, folks, not a window unit in every room. I have no idea how we did that. I think perhaps the heat melted the brain cells responsible for storing the memory of what that must have felt like. And looking back, mainly I think, why was there a house in Jackson, Mississippi, without central air conditioning in the first place?
In the Jackson summers, we walked places. We got in the car and drove places. I think I actually did things like run and exercise. We went on about our lives. It was Mississippi, you see.
In southern Indiana, I have decided that it’s best not to leave the house. Exercising is out of the question. If the weeds in the yard and garden time it correctly, they’ll be able to live out their long lives with no interference from me, because I’m just not going out there. Because in southern Indiana, this is hot. You see how it’s socially constructed? Or maybe I’m just older. Whatever. I’m still not going outside.
At any rate, in southern Indiana right now, it is hot. And the heat advisory tells us explicitly, “Find a good book. Curl up on your couch. Make a cold mixed drink.” I wish that’s what heat advisories said. It is, nonetheless, what we are doing. And it’s kind of fitting, isn’t it? We’ve come full circle back to like, February, when curling up on the couch is also the wisest course of action.