It’s sweltering in Texas again. The dog days of summer here mean an oppressive heat, the kind that makes you sweaty, cranky, thirsty and tired — and even alters your life choices.
There’s mostly two seasons in Texas: Summer and Almost Summer. And it’s not summer unless we’ve had a couple dozen 100+ degree days under our belts. The only way we get to Almost Summer again is to power through the days of 108 degrees.
With so much else conspiring to divide us, at least we can unite on these shared miseries: This stinks, and there’s nothing to do but endure it and look after each other. So far, we’ve had about 27 100-plus degree days — and still counting.
This kind of heat is dangerous. More than 200 people have been transported to hospitals for heat-related illness since May and 14 have been critical. Road rage incidents seem to have increased. Are people angrier because it feels miserable outside? We get it, but still, we must remain peaceful.
We can argue over whether it’s getting hotter for longer and how much of that to attribute to man-made climate change. But we can also erect monuments to Willis Carrier, whose invention — air conditioning — made robust life in the Sun Belt remotely possible.
Still, we’re starting to get the impression we won’t be able to stop the earth from sweltering, at least not as average folk driving average cars. So if we can’t stop it we might as well power through it. This isn’t our first sweltering summer — we’re pros at this now.
We must raise a glass of ice-cold water — or heck, maybe a Shiner Bock — to the bevy of folks who work outside year round in construction, road maintenance, mail delivery, law enforcement, landscaping and other fields. You sacrifice more sweat than you probably knew you had just to provide for your families and keep this city running in heat indexes that seem like a circle of Dante’s inferno. Our hats are off to you, just as soon as we can peel them from our sweaty heads.
It’s frustrating to look outside and see how nice and sunny it looks, only to remember it’s really unbearable and only manageable in small doses. Unless you have to work outside, most people are trying to figure out how to manage inside where there’s some air conditioning to cool us down. We don’t know how the real-life Dutton-like families paraded through Fort Worth in the 1800s with nothing but a horse-drawn carriage, long pants, and a dream — and no AC — but they’re stronger folks than we.
Same goes for everybody keeping the movie theaters, malls, restaurants, YMCA’s, gyms, breweries, business centers, homes cool — and of course everybody proficient in HVAC. In the summer months, these places become our refuge, our respite from the heat and a way to still find some joy, peace, and comfort. Texas would truly be unbearable without these places and the people who keep them running.
Revel in what relief you can. Find a pool, water park or lake. Keep an eye on the kids in your life: Both for safety reasons and as a reminder to still laugh even when you’re boiling. Kids seem to make the best of things, even 100+ degree heat. So what if you’ve indulged your weight in ice cream, frozen yogurt, and shaved ice by mid-August? You only live once.
Spare a thought for those who get no break, including the homeless, poor folks with window units or swamp coolers, even prison inmates who swelter all summer long. Even though we might be sweating between indoor spaces or outside at work, most of us get a break at night with sweet, cool AC. Not these folks.
Like a lot of cursed things in life, the only way around a season of suffering is through it. We might all be in a city hotter than the devil’s spit, but we’ve survived even hotter. We can make it through this, too.
Look out for your friends and family. Don’t go anywhere without water and a full tank of gas. Don’t work harder outside than you need to. Rest inside with air conditioning whenever possible. Enjoy some sweet treats in moderation and imagine how refreshing December will be when the rest of the country is freezing.
BEHIND OUR REPORTING
Hey, who writes these editorials?
Editorials are the positions of the Editorial Board, which serves as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s institutional voice. The members of the board are: Cynthia M. Allen, columnist; Steve Coffman, editor and president; Bud Kennedy, columnist; Ryan J. Rusak, opinion editor; and Nicole Russell, editorial writer and columnist. Most editorials are written by Rusak or Russell. Editorials are unsigned because they represent the board’s consensus positions, not the views of individual writers.
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The board aims to be consistent with stances it has taken in the past but usually engages in a fresh discussion based on new developments and different perspectives.
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Signed columns by writers such as Allen, Kennedy and Rusak contain the writer’s personal opinions.