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It's too hot to ignore the subject any longer

I didn't intend to address this subject, no matter what, because everyone else has already addressed it.

It has been hovering over us, making its presence known - like the proverbial giant elephant in the room that everybody sees and pretends to ignore - for two or three weeks, with no public comment by me. I avoided the subject as long as I possibly could, but I walked out on the back porch at 1 a.m. Friday, and the thermometer read 90 degrees - 1 a.m., 90 degrees. After that experience, I just have to say it.

Is it hot enough for you?

Lord, y'all. I know it is August in Georgia and it is supposed to be hot, but it has been ridiculous lately - with no relief in sight unless a hurricane blows through, and I wouldn't want to wish that on anybody.

How hot is it? That's what I asked the crowd at Evans Drug Store in Conyers the other day. You know the place, even if you've never been there, because every town has one: a spot where folks - I would say old men, but most of them can still whip me and might do that if I called them old in the paper - gather to talk about politics, the weather and old women, too, if the truth be known. They told me that it was not as hot as it has been and pooh-poohed me for complaining about the heat.

Well, the weather bureau disagrees, because, according to them, we are setting records right and left. It's nothing anymore for the thermometer to climb above 100 degrees. It's done so seven out the past 10 days on my back porch, and David Chandley looks embarrassed to even read the forecast most afternoons.

But the men at the drug store aren't impressed. They all had a story to tell about weather "back in the day," and how they dealt with it.

"Didn't have air-conditioning back then," offered the gentleman in the wool driving cap and brown sweater. Yes, I said cap and sweater. Yes, it was 102 outside. But he was inside - apparently for the duration - and the drug store is air-conditioned. "It was just as hot," he went on, "but we were used to it."

I've heard that from a lot of older folks in a lot of places where older folks gather. My daddy, when he was alive, used to swear that it was nothing to plow a mule all day and it be around 105. "Didn't bother us," he would always say.

He was a better man than me if he could plow a mule all day in the weather we've been having. I tried to cut my grass at 8:30 in the evening Wednesday and just about passed out.

Another one of the crowd - a guy in an Alabama Crimson Tide baseball cap - told about how his mother would wet down the tin roof of his old farmhouse and hang wet towels up in the living room to try to beat the heat.

My mama used to do that, too, and his comments reminded me of a hilarious story she used to tell about the time her brother got caught trying to cool a six-pack of beer in the well. Seems the preacher happened by and needed a drink of water and was quite surprised to find a bucket of beer at the end of the well rope.

I didn't share that story with the group, but I should have. Eventually, high school football practice came up - as it always does when folks start talking about the frailties of the younger generation. Turns out that kids are coddled nowadays. They used to have two-a-days in the hot sun and people would have considered you a sissy if you asked for water. Coaches would give you salt tablets, too, before and after practice.

"Wonder a bunch of 'em didn't die," offered the Alabama fan.

"Tougher back then. Used to the heat. Didn't have air-conditioning," this, again, from the guy in the sweater.

My ultimate contribution to the conversation was an occasional nod, having learned a long time ago that one can learn more from 80-year-old men than you can teach them. I'm nowhere near 80, but I actually remember all the things they mentioned - well water, spraying the house down, salt tablets, no air-conditioning - I lived through it all. But I still think that 103 is hot, no matter what generation you live in.

I didn't say so, though, for want of offending anybody. And when I left, the discussion of the weather was still raging. Amazingly, they were still on the heat and had not gotten around to talking about the humidity.

Maybe there is something to this global warming after all. I didn't think so last month when I walked out on that porch in Montana at 1 a.m. and it was 38 degrees - this on the 4th of July - but I think so now.

But there is no cause for worry. A cold snap's coming. It's only getting up to 95 this afternoon.

Darrell Huckaby is an author and teacher in Rockdale County. E-mail him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net.