It’s definitely time, past time, to update this annual list of heat-beaters. Feel free to clip and save, mix and match, or add your own.
1. Delete all unwanted emails without opening them. Especially if they’re from types who are always a bit hot under the collar anyway. If you must open any, under no circumstances reply. Soon you’ll be on their heated level. Last year I heard from a Satanist — no, actually he said he was a pagan — and, you guessed it, he was hot as hell.
2. Forget talk radio and 24/7 television news. Switch to the classical musical station. Vivaldi is a comfort, Dvorak about as stirring as you need, Beethoven’s symphonies a little too bombastic, and Mozart’s perfect — as always. Listening to the well-named Amadeus is like looking up at the clear night sky out in the country and hearing the music of the spheres. Or get out Miles Davis and John Coltrane’s classic, “Kind of Blue.” (I hereby nominate Miles Davis — along with Gershwin, of course — as the greatest American composer of the 20th Century.)
3. Recall the lightest, most elegant, interesting dessert you ever had. Mine is zabaglione over half a perfect peach. Italians know what they’re doing in matters of summer style, and hot summers bring out their genius for creating just the right dish.
4. To borrow a line from the late great Robert Benchley, get out of those sweaty clothes and into a dry martini.
5. Think on the pure, crystalline beauty of the Pythagorean Theorem.
6. Don’t try to figure out the infield fly rule one more time; just settle back and watch the game. Linger over the replays in slow motion. Move slowly yourself. No sense hurryin.’
7. Avoid watching sit-coms, playing rock ‘n’ roll, listening to TV shout shows, worrying about the future or regretting the past. “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.” –Satchel Paige. Epictetus the Stoic might have said something like that, but not half so well.
8. Decorate with cool, green, leafy things, but not kudzu. Turn your back on it for a minute and it’ll cover your house.
9. Take siestas; arrange to live in the early morning and after twilight.
10. Don’t hurry back, or anywhere. “Nothing can be more useful to a man than a determination not to be hurried.” –Henry David Thoreau. He may have been a Massachusetts man, but he had to be a Southerner at heart.
11. Park in the shade.
12. Key lime pie.
13. Wear a hat. With a broad brim.
14. Give the kids a nap. Take one yourself. Or watch an old Mister Rogers show with a small child; it’ll soothe both of you.
15. Sit on the front porch. In a swing. Under a fan. Especially if it’s glassed-in, air-conditioned, in the shade, and surrounded by cool greenery inside and out. If you must go out in the noonday sun — like mad dogs and Englishmen — stick a handkerchief in the back of your collar. Wear sunglasses. Breathe deeply.
16. Read last January’s weather reports, with special attention to blizzards and ice storms. Contemplate Iceland and wonder if Eyjafjallajokull will erupt again. But under no circumstances attempt to pronounce it. It takes too much effort.
17. Take a thimble-sized cup of hot soup before supper to whet the appetite.
18. Switch from big band to chamber music, red to white wine, gin to tonic, cornbread to beaten biscuits, humor to wit. Sit back, breathe deeply, and erase from your mind all thoughts of Rand Paul, Eliot Spitzer, Obamacare, Eric Holder and anything else Fast and Furious.
19. Go fishing. Early in the day. Without fancy lures, rod ‘n’ reel, and other impedimenta. Pack a picnic breakfast, choose an unfrequented spot off the beaten path, lie down, breathe deep, close your eyes and clear the mind. (“Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” –Thoreau again.)
20. Have a tall cold one. With a hot dog. At a minor league ballpark. Luxuriate in the nostalgia. See, hear and feel what baseball used to be like. Don’t get all involved in who’s winning and who’s losing. Just root for the team in the field. And never, never refer to it as the Defense. That’s heavy, sweaty, bruising football talk.
21. Think tomatoes, the real kind. Like Bradley County pinks. Ripe, sliced thin, maybe on dark bread. With just a hint of a smidgen of a drop of olive oil.
22. Wear white linen and play Great Gatsby to beat the band. Hide your ties till winter.
23. If you get the urge to exercise, lie down at once. If you absolutely must, swim. In cool water. Never run, seldom walk, stroll if you must. Master the saunter. Remember Paige’s Law No. 2: “Step lightly; do not jar the inner harmonies.”
24. See the movie “Doctor Zhivago.” Stay to see snowy scenes twice. This time of year, Siberia in January starts to look like paradise. Watch an old movie, preferably one set in a cold climate.
25. Sweet tea. If you must attend a political rally, make it one sponsored by the (Iced) Tea Party.
26. Contemplate the coming of the next ice age.
27. Read up on the culture of the Esquimaux, Inuit and Aleuts.
28. Plan an expedition to the South Pole. Read a biography of Shackleton and marvel.
29. Stock up on watercress and cucumbers.
30. Carry a bandanna. Maybe two. Mop your brow even when it doesn’t need mopping.
31. Walk on the shady side of the street. (Visitors from Up No’th have to be reminded.) Whoever designed those treeless parking lots around shopping malls should have to park in one. Every day. In August. Let the punishment fit the crime.
32. Sigh now and then over the follies of men. Do not judge lest you get all worked up. (Isn’t that in Scripture somewhere?)
33. Read “Gorky Park” or some other detective story set in a cold climate. Check out Howard Hawks’ arctic and antic sci-fi classic “The Thing From Another World.” The scary scenes are particularly funny.
34. Send the kids to visit the grandparents.
35. Grandparents: Send the kids back after 24 hours, then take a week off by yourselves. You deserve it. You’ve already raised your kids. Alaska would be nice this time of year. If you can’t make it up there, Newfoundland is closer.
36. Think what Stockholm must be like. Also Spitsbergen.
37. Go for a walk at dawn, preferably without having to get up at an early hour.
38. Peaches. Especially those from around Clarksville, Ark., where they keep turning out new varieties. Oh, those Ruby Princes! Ambrosia!
39. “Simplify, simplify, simplify.” –Henry David Thoreau once again.
40. Don’t fret. Why worry about things till you have to? You may never have to.
41. Just one word: Seersucker.
42. Wonder about the Laplanders.
43. Go ahead, try the waterslide.
44. Think on not having to put up the Christmas decorations, cook the turkey or build a roaring fire.
45. Smile in the sure knowledge that the damper on your fireplace is closed.
46. Check out the contents of the fridge at home. At length.
47. Consult the atlas for the location of Novaya Zemlya and the Bering Strait. Read about penguin population patterns. Study up on the Aurora Borealis.
48. Re-read Jack London’s “To Build a Fire.”
49. Be nice. Act pretty.
50. Take the columnists in the newspaper with an extra grain of salt. Maybe a carload.