Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Coping with summer weather

Learning how to live in 90 percent heat and 90 percent humidity is a true lifestyle art form. Like Mexicans who take siestas and Spaniards who take their evening paseos, eating dinner very late, New Orleanians have learned to get their errands and exercise done early and go out to clubs late to avoid withering in the summer heat. Everyone wears as little as they can get away with - flip-flops, shorts, sleeveless, strapless, backless, as less-list as possible. But always a hat.

Semi-tropical rain can pour down at any time and drench the parched earth. Oftentimes, people just continue on their way, letting themselves be cooled down. Joggers circling Audubon Park or plodding down the neutral ground just keep going through the rain, knowing the sun will soon dry their exercise clothes.

Last week, I peeked outside to check on my cat when the rain started. Samie really does not enjoy getting wet. I'd just gotten out of the shower, so had a towel wrapped around me to stick my head outside the door and was surprised to find the postman sitting on the bench on my front porch, clutching his mail, watching the rain teaming down. I asked if he'd like a glass of water, but he was fine. Where was his raincoat? I asked. Rain jackets are too hot for his job. Nobody liked getting wet mail, so he'd just wait it out. Fifteen minutes later, dressed, I peeked again. He was still there.

I swim weekdays in the public pool in Audubon Park, a few blocks away. Last week, I chatted with another lap swimmer and learned he was a UPS driver. He was elated to discover the pool, so takes his lunch hour there every day. When I left, I saw his truck backed up to the building beside the palm trees with the back door thrown open to the breeze.

He was bare-chested with his uniform hanging from a rack to dry. I told him I planned to notify the corporate office of this unseemly behavior, but it is just a way to cope with the heat, down here in New Orleans.


  1. Hi Mary,
    Where I live, pretty much in between two of the Great Lakes, we experience periods of high humidity as well. We don't normally get temperatures as high as yours, or both the heat and the humidity for extended periods of time. We also don't get the afternoon thundershowers for the most part. We do find that it is the humidity that drains the energy from a person.
    I did visit New Orleans last July and I think that my personal experience with our local humidity made it much easier for me to accept and function while visiting. Of course because I was vacationing, I could easily duck into an air conditioned store or restaurant to cool off for a few minutes, or just sit by the river and watch the boats go by.
    I am not sure how I would fare actually having to live and work in your summer climate (especially not being a "spring chicken" anymore), but it doesn't put me off from a summer visit to your city!
    Take care and stay cool!

  2. The secret is stripping down! Nobody around here is shy or critical if you reveal too much.

    I lived in Chicago and know how hot and stifling the summer weather can be. My cat and I sit in front of an air conditioner all day and I turn one on next to my bed at night. Can't sleep without it! She won't go outside until the sun goes down. When you visit plantations, it makes you wonder how they survived in those long dresses and coats!

    Summer is a great time to visit! Just sit under the ceiling fans at Napolean House and sip a G&T!