My friends in Arkansas say it is going to be 105 there Monday. It’s been in the mid-90s here and very humid, but Arkansas summers will always define heat for me. For some reason though, what I remember now about summers growing up is how the heat never really kept us from doing anything – we would still play kick the can and spotlight for hours when it was 90 degrees at night and never care that we were covered in sweat.
I remember walking the half mile from our house down to Row Lake to fish and then almost another mile to get a frozen boysenberry yogurt and a fried peach pie at Frankie’s Donut shop and think nothing of walking. I do recall dodging the sun by slipping from shade patch to shade patch through Oaklawn cemetery, but the heat still didn’t keep me from stopping by my favorite head stones (the ones with pictures of the departed on them) and stealing Magnolia blossoms for my mom from one of the big trees there. She always pretended to be grateful even though bugs crawled out of the blooms on to the dining room table as soon as she put them in water.
When I was 9 or 10 I would ride my bike the three miles from practice at the baseball fields to our home in Quail Valley. Once when I started to feel light headed I stopped by my mom’s friend Joan’s house to “visit” and she took me the rest of the way home.
The only time I really remember feeling miserably hot was at my mamaw and granddad’s house when we would have to dig potatoes or pick green beans and tomatoes when it was 110 outside. Something about actually working in the heat (even if it was only sitting on a bucket in the garden picking peas) made me suddenly aware of it. But I would forget all about it again as soon as my granddad sent me walking barefoot on blazing hot gravel to the little store at the end of the road for bottles of Coke and Pixie sticks, which we would enjoy while sitting in front of their wall unit air conditioner that blasted the iciest air I’ve ever felt. I wonder if I could even live in that heat again. I’d like to think I could, but maybe only kids can enjoy it.