As the temperature flutters around 100, we get a little nostalgic for December’s freeze and February’s snow, for hot chocolate and cold toes on linoleum. Ah, and remember spring? Daffodils and open windows and wondering whether long sleeves would keep us warm enough on morning jogs?
OK. Time to wipe away those wistful smiles (as well as the sweat beads such an effort created) and face reality: It’s hot. And it’s going to be this hot — hotter, even! — for another five months. Four if we’re lucky.
Before you blow a gasket, lose steam or bubble over at the mere thought, instead put cool cucumber slices over your eyes and do this: Chill. Chill out. Take a chill pill. Or any number of trite phrases that keep running through our perspiration-mottled brains.
Keeping your cool is no easy task in summer weather. For the sake of your mental health (as well as our own), we’ve cooked up a few ideas to get you started.
• Close your eyes and count to 10
Isn’t that what your mom told you to do when you get hot under the collar? We’ll take her thought a step further: Open them and count to diez. Or dix. Or zehn. What a fine time this would be to learn Spanish, French, German (we’re too hot to think of any more exotic ones). Or, if not to actually do homework, at least to sit in a cool classroom and listen to the rhythmic cadence of another language.
Start your class search at the Dallas County Community College District’s continuing education site.
• Eat something spicy
Perhaps better phrased: Don’t avoid spicy foods in the summer. Yes, they’ll make you sweat, but you’re sweating already. When all that sweat evaporates, you’re cooler.
“When you eat something spicy like a hot pepper, your blood vessels open to allow blood to flow more freely,” says Lona Sandon, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and assistant professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “You might feel flushed. What it does is bring body water from surface closest to skin. You might sweat a little more. Then it evaporates off and helps the body to feel cool.”
The process may sound a bit counterproductive, but Sandon’s a big advocate of phytonutrients that make spicy foods spicy.
“Have at it,” she says. “Just carry a towel. And have a nice glass of water or lemonade. The best way to cool your body is to make sure you have enough fluid.”
• Open your veins (but really your heart)
Blood needs don’t stop with summer, and not just because more people outside and on the road mean more accidents. For cancer patients, platelets (which have a shelf life of just five days) are imperative.
“Chemo drugs usually destroy the function of blood marrow,” says Linda Goelzer, public relations director for Carter BloodCare. “The platelets and blood products they get are the stopgap for them until their marrow gets cranked up again.”
Another reason to give, besides the basic life-saving one? From July 22 to Aug. 27, anyone who donates will receive a coupon for Blue Bell ice cream. “A pint for a pint,” they’re calling it.
Call 1-800-DONATE4 or go to carterbloodcare.org to set up an appointment.
• Take a book around
Where does the temperature always seem sweater-over-your-shoulders comfy, the atmosphere cool and quiet? At the library, you can lose yourself in the shelves or connect with others who love reading.
Public Library branches offer book clubs that meet various days and times. You can listen to what others have to say, as well as interject your own thoughts. You don’t even have to whisper.
• Kick around an ice-cream idea
The members of Girl Scout Troop 1678 in Plano are out of college now. Their leader, Patty Townsend, still recalls how much fun the troop had making coffee-can ice cream.
She shared the top-secret, can’t-find-anywhere-else-but-the- Internet recipe with us: Into a very clean one-pound coffee can, stir one cup each of milk and heavy cream; one-half cup sugar; and one-half teaspoon vanilla. Add fruit, nuts or chocolate, if you’d like.
Put the lid on the can and seal with duct tape. Set the can into a three-pound coffee can. Pack ice around it. Pour at least } cup rock salt on top of the ice. Seal the can.
“The girls would stand in lines about 10 feet apart,” Townsend says. “They’d kick it back and forth and sing songs and giggle. It was a huge hit.”
After 30 or 40 minutes, unseal the various cans. Voila! Ice cream, three cold and creamy cups of the stuff. You’ve already had your workout, so indulge without (much) guilt.
This can also be done with a zip-lock plastic bag. Check out this link from Howtoons.com for instructions.
• Cave in
Learn more about real caves and grottoes by attending a meeting of DFW Grotto. Maybe you’ll even be inspired to go on a caving trip with the group.
The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. June 23 at REI, 4515 LBJ Freeway. For more information, see dfwgrotto.org.
• Make jokes
Not only will laughter take your mind off how miserably hot you are, it’s also (did you know this?) a good abs workout. With that in mind, we asked Dave Little (www.lovedavelittle.com) for a bit of heat mirth. He dabbed cool compresses on his pulse points and offered this:
“The devil calls up his travel agent and says, ‘I’d like to go somewhere hot this summer.’ The travel agent says, ‘Have you ever been to Dallas in July?’ The devil answers, ‘It’s a vacation, not work.’