Not sure if any of you folks around here noticed, but last week was the hottest week of the year in these here parts. I mean, it wasn’t Canada hot where it has topped 115 degrees already this year or Arctic Circle in Siberia hot — also 115-plus degrees already this year — but it hit the upper 90s with 567 percent humidity. It wasn’t exactly a dry heat.
As a kid, I learned there’s really only way to cope with hot summer days — water. In my hometown of Oglethorpe, Ga., we spent a lot of summer days playing in Town Creek, which was 1 percent creek, 69 percent sewage and 30 percent water moccasins with bad attitudes. Mostly we just played with the crawdads and raced sticks we called boats. But other times we would dam up the little ditch back in the woods and create about a 4-foot deep swimming hole for skinny dipping.
That would cool us off a little bit, but then came the best water option ever — a swimming pool. And not just any swimming pool — but our next-door-neighbors’ swimming pool. Having owned a house 30 years later with a pool — a 33,000-gallon, 11-foot-deep pool dug out by a farmer and his backhoe — I know full well that having a next-door-neighbor share their pool is waaaaay better. The boys next door had to take care of it and despised that pool within a couple of years. Meanwhile, I spent more time in their pool over the next seven years than any other human on the planet. I definitely got my money’s worth.
Otherwise, our water options were pretty simple — the occasional float down the Flint River, running around in a sprinkler and drinking well water straight from a garden hose. Water options, however, have certainly expanded through the years.
Last week we kept our two grandsons — ages 5 and 2 — while their parents were in Key West … playing on and in the water, of course. Fortunately, there was enough water to keep the boys cool.
The first day, we took them to a splash pad. These are pretty common now, but I don’t recall ever seeing one until I was at least 30 years old. Water comes at kids from all directions, but there’s no pool, so you don’t have to worry about a child drowning. The 2-year-old did get run over by a hefty girl, but in her defense the giant bucket of water was about to spill. It was an emergency.
The next day, we took them out into the sticks, to a friend’s house in Rupert, Ga., which you’ve probably never heard of. Just think of it as the Ideal, Ga., suburbs. Never heard of Ideal? OK, now you’re just slowing me down.
Anyway, in Rupert, the boys were able to swim in a pool about 4 feet deep. I’ve developed a great appreciation for little pools after the ocean I once had to maintain. Then, the boys were able to play in nearby creeks and ponds. Thank goodness for water!
There are a lot of folks out West who are dealing with major water shortages right now. There are families in formerly wet areas of Oregon who dream of taking a shower in their house while we’re running through puddles on splash pads. Wells are running dry and lakes are disappearing in many parts of the West, while wildfires are raging.
Fortunately, here in Georgia, we’ve got plenty of water. We may have 567 percent humidity, mosquitoes, gnats, water moccasins and science-denying anti-vaxxers perpetuating a pandemic, but at least we’ve got water and can shower off after a day of working outside or walking through Wal-Mart.
But I feel sorry for those who can’t indulge in water activities — or showers — these days as the Earth tries to rid itself of humans out to defeat it.
It’s probably too late to save future generations from climate change, but at least we can say we almost agreed to start thinking about doing something. Almost.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll take some frozen water and blend up a concoction to help me hang on. Mother Earth might need one herself.