By Minnie Apolis
(previously ran on August 2, 2012 on Newsvine site)
Here we are, the
first of June already, heading into the dog days of summer, and if
you do not have some strategies for keeping cool by now, you're a
goner. Especially with the extreme heat and dryness of this summer.
I will start off by sharing
some of my personal “favorite tricks” of warding off the heat –
broken down into categories – and let you readers chime in with
– Nothing like a tall iced tea or lemonade to help you stay
hydrated in hot weather. Southern-style sweet tea is optional. Mint
is also a key ingredient, having a curious cooling quality. In early
America, from colonial times through the 1800's, one treat was
sugared mint leaves. Most people grew mint or knew where they could
gather the wild variety. Individual leaves were coated in a sugar
solution which helped preserve them and turned them into a sweet
snack with the afternoon tea. I was presented with a sample at an
herbal-themed event some years ago, sponsored by the county parks,
and it was a very refreshing treat indeed.
So try adding a touch of mint
to drinks or even some vegetable dishes this summer: mint tea is
probably the easiest option, but mint can also be added to peas or
other veggies. Mint is also an essential ingredient in the mint
julep, and trust me, the julep is a very nice refresher during the
mid-afternoon break when it is too hot to do anything.
A lot of people just stop cooking hot meals, you notice that? More
takeout from the groceries or fast-food joints, for one thing. But
there are lots of meals that do not require standing by a hot stove.
Cold dishes may require only cooking some pasta to mix in with tuna,
chicken breast, salad greens, mixed Chinese veggies, etc. And you can
make your own version of chef salad, of course, preferably with fresh
greens from your own garden.
Food preparation is more
comfortable if you ditch the oven and stovetop for the microwave and
the slow cooker. A slow cooker doesn't emit nearly so much heat into
the kitchen like the stove does. And a slow cooker is pretty much a
one-dish meal, just toss everything into the pot -- chicken, veggies,
rice, whatever spices you want, and whatever sauce you want or none,
and that's it. Throw it in and forget about it.
This brings up the other
popular method of food preparation in summer which is cooking out on
a grill. Why anyone voluntarily stands by a heat-emitting device for
a couple hours in the dead of summer is a bit of a mystery, but there
ya go. At least the heat is not trapped inside a room, broasting you
while the meat grills. And whoever mans the grills usually gets some
perks, usually involving the ingestion of hop-flavored liquids.
Boy do I hate getting into a hot car after work. You're lucky if you
can park in a parking structure, where your auto is out of the direct
sun. But doing any kind of errand will mean parking in a parking lot
or on the street. I have already shared my tip about tossing an old
towel over the steering wheel while it is parked. This keeps the sun
from heating up your steering wheel to about the temperature of that
grill mentioned above. I already have a wheel cover that wraps around
it, but even the cover gets pretty warm. Ergo, the towel. Just toss
it onto the passenger seat and you're good to go.
I also open the window for at
least the first five minutes or so of driving, to get the hot air out
of the car. When I feel the AC kicking in, then I can close them
No not the movie, tho it was a classic, hey? Try holding an ice pack
on hot spots when you get home from work or play. Hot spots vary with
individuals, but usually that triangle at the base of the neck is a
good one to chill. (Drug stores sell reusable ice packs which give
years of service; just wash them after use and stick them back in the
I have read of people putting an ice cube in the armpits,
and tho it sounds funny it does help. The back of the neck, the
forehead, the wrists, the belly are all good targets for cooling. In
fact, the plains Indians would dip strips of leather in a cold stream
and tie them around the wrists. The reason for that is the pulse
points in the wrists are readily cooled this way. On the same logic,
avoid wearing most metal bracelets in hot weather.
NO A/C AT HOME?
There are places you can go for free where you can cool off. Some
cities have cooling centers, but there are other places that one can
go where one is cooled as a side benefit. One is the mall, of course,
and many of them have places where you can sit near a mini-waterfall
or other decorative feature. Going to a movie will get you in an
AC-cooled environment for a couple hours at least. Bookstores and
other shops may have lectures or readings, free to the public, by
authors and authorities in their fields.
Another technique involves
fooling the brain. You mentally place yourself in a cold
environment. I enjoyed talking to a friend who just returned from a
trip to Alaska, and it was very pleasant to gaze on pictures of
glaciers and ice floes and the like. So rent a movie about Alaska, or
about that disastrous Shackleton expedition, or anything set in
winter or Christmas-time. Groundhog Day is a good one.
Flip ahead in the calendar to
December and see what that picture is – probably evergreens in snow
– or back to January and February. This is where I think the
calendar makers have it all backwards. In summer we do not want to
look at hot beaches and stuff like that. And in winter when we are
freezing our buns off we do not need pictures of more snow and ice
and cold stuff. In February is when I would like to look at a
tropical beach, thank you.
Hope this brief article holds
at least one new tip that you can use.