Here in the South, summer is a muggy misery. Walking from the parking lot to the store can leave you drenched in sweat. Humidity is like kudzu. It permeates everything with its stifling embrace. Trust me on this — it is palpable.
Through the years, I’ve discovered a few tricks to help ease the most sultry summer. They don’t alleviate the heat and humidity, but they do help get me through the worse of it.
1. Always carry a complete change of clothes. If you think this sounds extreme, I can only assume you a) do not live in the South or b) have never been to the South. Believe me, if you are here in summer, there will come a day when you will happily run into the nearest air-conditioned bathroom and change your clothes. Don’t worry about the funny looks. They just wish they had thought of it.
2. Keep an extra stick of deodorant in your glove box. You’ll need it, and your friends will thank you.
3. Rethink your morning routine. This is the time to go conservative on the foundation. (It’s going to melt off anyway.) Try using a powder or mineral make-up. The air will keep your skin moist. (You’re in a sauna, remember.) And you won’t have to spend the day trying to keep your make-up from running down your blouse. Throw a small bottle of anti-frizz hair spritz and some extra hair ties in your glove compartment.
4. Carry a fan. It doesn’t matter what kind. A small battery operated fan or a hand fan. at the Tomato Festival in Slocomb, Alabama a few weeks ago i spotted an ingenious volunteer with a hand made fan she had concocted with a box of Cheerios. Why didn’t I think of that? This is not the time to get cute with those dainty little fold up fans. You need something substantial. Let your imagination run wild. The bigger the better.
5. Keep perfume or body spray in the refrigerator. You’ll love the way it feels when you come in from a hot day. You can also keep a spray bottle of water in the fridge for a quick and cool recovery.
6. Carry water. Everywhere. If you can, keep a small ice cooler in the trunk filled with water. One to drink. One to pour over your head in emergencies. I like to freeze a couple of bottles for short trips. It doesn’t take long for them to start thawing out, and a frozen bottle of water can be rolled across your over-heated body to help you cool down quickly.
7. Keep a small handkerchief in your purse. You’ll be happy to have it when your eyes are burning from melted sun screen. You can wet the handkerchief with your bottle of cool water for those “feels like 102° with 87% humidity days” and gently blot for a refreshing lift.
8. Use bug spray as a centerpiece for outside dining. Nothing is appreciated more by a guest than a beautiful arrangement of Off! and personal fans. You can put ice cubes in the bottom of the container to keep your guests cool and fresh.
9. Watch Dr. Zhivago. Inevitably, the heat and humidity will cause your energy to sag like a front porch full of hound dogs. Studies at The University of Sussex have shown that core temperature lowers significantly when watching films that depict a person being cold. Was there ever a greater film than Dr. Zhivago to elicit a drop in temperature? I get a chill just thinking about Yuri trudging through the snowy Urals to return to Yuriatin after he escapes the Communists.
10. Keep a bottle of whiskey in the the freezer. I don’t know if there’s a study on the efficacy of cold whiskey as a coolant, but you won’t care as much that you look like a melting wax candle. My fave is Wild Turkey American Honey. (Cold beer works, too!)
So there you have it. A few thoughts on getting through the southern summer. I’d love to hear any of your keep-cool summer tips.
Now, please excuse me while I make a tomato sandwich, grab a cold beer, turn on the ceiling fan and sink into the couch to watch Dr. Zhivago. Happy summer y’all!