When famous Missourian Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) came up with his famous quote “everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it,” he surely understood the reality that nobody can do anything about it, other than talk.

The bottom line is, when it’s hot, it’s hot, and when it’s cold, it’s cold, and either way all we can do is deal with it.

Even though the weather around here seems to have taken a cooler, wetter turn of late, there has obviously been plenty of heat this summer. And since no one could do anything about it while it was going on other than use it as a topic of discussion, that’s what people did.

Or course, whenever the temperature in the Ozarks drops way down or climbs way up, the questions and opinions are sure to follow.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

“Which do you like better, the hot or the cold?”

“I much prefer the heat. I need a sweater when it drops below 70.”

“Well, I can’t stand it when it’s really hot – I’ll take the cold, thank you.”

Obviously, there’s no right or wrong in this issue. It’s OK to feel more comfortable when the lawn is fried, the leaves on the lilacs are wilting, and your skin turns sticky and clammy the moment you set foot on the front porch. But it’s also fine to feel better when fields are frozen solid, there are no leaves on the lilacs, and moisture from your breath freezes on your nostril hair.

An online poll recently done by a Michigan TV station showed that 52-percent of people responding preferred “frigid cold” to “blazing hot.” One wonders if the heat wouldn’t beat the cold in a similar poll conducted in late January.

But whether you weather the weather better in high heat or frigid cold, or you do equally well in either extreme, you probably have at least pondered which end of the spectrum better suits your style. If you’re like me, your conclusion might be that high heat and bitter cold both make the going kind of tough.

But then again, each temperature extreme does present enjoyable options that wouldn’t really work or make sense with the other.

For example, swimming in the cool water of a spring-fed river is hard to beat in mid-summer when the air temperature and relative humidity are both about 96. I guess you could swim in early February, too, but it may not be practical because you might need a pick-ax to get to the water. And your odds of surviving the inevitable onset of hypothermia would be pretty low.

Conversely, sitting by a fire sipping hot coffee and watching a good movie is always nice on a cold winter’s night. I suppose two-thirds of that scenario wouldn’t be so bad on a hot summer evening, either, but the fire part doesn’t sound all that attractive. And cuddling up next to the air conditioner just isn’t the same.

Could be worse

Of course, as miserably hot as it has been here this summer, it could be worse. Like it has been in other parts of the Midwest.

While we’ve been whining our way through many days in 90s and some in the 100s, triple-digit temperatures have been beating our neighbors in Oklahoma to a steaming pulp since June.

Oklahoma City is on pace to easily beat its previous record for days in the 100s in one year (50, set back in 1980). And it’s been so hot for so long in OKC that several roads and bridges have buckled, causing damage to vehicles and even injuries.

My wife knows a woman who lives in the small town of Ringling in south-central Oklahoma just north of the Texas border. High temperatures there have stayed above 105 for weeks on end now, and topped 110 on numerous occasions.

The heat there has been so excessive that the local school district has already decided to postpone the start of the school year a couple of weeks in hopes of giving kids (and teachers and AC units) a break.

The woman told my wife that she’s used to seeing her lawn more or less goes away for a couple of months each year during the peak of the summer season. She also said she has a bad feeling it’s not coming back this time.

Meanwhile in Plano, Texas, an assistant football coach collapsed and died after his Prestonwood Christian School team’s first football practice on the afternoon of Aug. 2, and heat was said to be at least partially responsible for the death. The day was the 31st in a row that the high temperature had soared past the 100-mark in the Dallas area.

Making the best of things

Leave it to the animals to show us how it’s done.

During our hot streak, cows in Texas County went temporarily aquatic, taking turns hanging out in ponds when not huddling together in whatever shade they might be able to find in their given fields.

When they’re submerged up to their backs and not much of their head is above the water line, they almost look like a bunch of hippos pondering their next mouthful of river weeds.

A female cohort in our office told a story recently of watching a hummingbird doing an airborne dance in one of those sprinklers that sprays about eight narrow streams of water and slowly goes back and forth over the same area. As the sprinkler was doing its thing, little bird was apparently flitting about in and around the streams of water.

At my family’s remote outpost, one of the outbuildings is an old smokehouse with thick, homemade concrete walls. It stays kind of cool even when the outside temperature is hot.

We’ve been leaving the door open on purpose, and not surprisingly, the dogs and cats have taken advantage of their “cool room” and can often be found in horizontal mode inside the inviting space.

Anyway, we may well have turned the hot corner, so to speak, and we may not see any more days in the 100s until next summer (if there’s still a world then – you know what they say about 2012).

Thankfully, all those people who have been saying they’re “ready for the heat to be over with” may well be getting their wish. Of course, that means before you know it cattle ranchers will be rolling out round bales and we’ll all be donning winter coats.

And of course, not long after that, many folks will surely make it known that they’re “ready for the cold to be over with.”

And I won’t blame them.

I vote for perpetual fall.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer, copy editor and advertising representative for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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