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Better than cool

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Sultry, oppressive, sweltering, humid, scorching, roasting, muggy, stifling, baking, airless, and just plain hot! Welcome to summer in North Carolina.

Summer in the South is very different than in San Francisco, my previous home. Mark Twain wasn't kidding when he said that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. It would literally be front-page headlines on the rare occasions when the mercury crept past 80 degrees. People would swoon in the streets, almost prostate from the heat. I would be tempted to say to them, "You must be kidding; there isn't even any humidity. Now get a grip on yourself!"

But as my husband pointed out to me on more than one occasion, people choose to live in the City by the Bay because they like the moist ocean breezes and constant mist and fog. On the other hand, I love summer, having grown up in the Northeast and associating summer with bare feet, short shorts and tank tops (at least when my breasts hadn't been suckled by a child and therefore still pointed straight ahead). Grilling food, splashing in the pool, romping at the beach--nothing could be more carefree.

I complained bitterly every summer for 15 years about San Francisco's damp and dank days of July and August. While my seasonal internal clock wanted me to reach for the tube tops and short skirts, reality intruded and I pulled out the down vest and long pants, instead. So, when I moved to North Carolina, I promised myself (and my husband, who was a bit tired of hearing me complain about San Francisco's cold) that I wouldn't complain about North Carolina's heat.

That was immediately put to the test when we moved here seven years ago. Leaving the airport after arriving on July 5, we were greeted by a wall of heat and humidity. During those first months here, as I took my then 2-year-old son to the park and got woozy from the heat, I thought that perhaps the move had been a terrible mistake. No one else was foolish enough to be on a playground during the dog days of summer, so my hopes of meeting friends for us were quickly dashed. I soon discovered that hanging out in the air-conditioned apartment or in the cool waters of the pool were preferable to pushing a toddler on a swing situated on blazing asphalt. New friends could wait until fall.

We have since made many friends during our seasons here in the Southern Part of Heaven. And while I know that during the hottest months of the year, many people think that this doesn't feel like heaven at all but rather a more incendiary place, I don't mind the heat. When the temperature soars past the century mark, I just remember the chill air penetrating deep into my bones during my days in San Francisco, pop another ice cube into my tall and frosty glass of water, and silently give thanks to Mr. Carrier, the man who invented air conditioning.

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