Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Take a Break: Stay Cool with a No Rush Day

With a heat wave sweeping most of the country, it’s time for a “No Rush Day.”

I grew up in Baltimore, MD, where temps were easily 90 or more most days in the summer, plus lots of humidity. Besides swimming, my favorite way to beat the heat was to lie on a lounge chair in the shade and read. I’d eat M & M’s when they were available, which left my hands stained with red dye number 2 or something probably just as nasty. However, the combination of sounds (cicada and the occasionally bird), smells and heat would lull me into a bit of a stupor that was quite pleasant.

The adults, who were not at work, would do the majority of the shopping and chores in the morning, leaving the afternoon for naps, reading in the shade or in front of a fan, or catching up on more sedentary tasks like paying bills. The heat of the day was spent out of the sun, with curtains drawn to keep the sun from shinning in the house.

In the cool of the evening, the neighbors were out on the porches and kids ruled the street until the streetlights came on. One of our neighbors rigged it up so they could watch TV on their porch. Once it was dark, we’d lie on our backs stargazing or we’d have a special game of “kick the can.”

I’ve rarely lived with an air conditioner in my home, even in Baltimore. In Vermont, the weather, in my view, has never been hot enough to merit even a consideration of one. My kids would disagree. There is something so nice about just not doing too much as a way to stay cool.

My idea of a perfect “no rush day,” is head to the beach, lake or pool where there is hopefully, a good breeze and cold water to jump in and out of. If that’s not an option, consider the following:

Make Ices and/or Popsicles: My Mom would make lemonade, pour it into a pan and stick it in the freezer, for us to enjoy in the evening. We would sneak in during the day and take a fork and “shave it.” We had never heard of granatas, but we knew that we liked putting our head in the freezer, and loved the pieces of shaved ice that resulted from the “raking.”

There are all sorts of inexpensive Popsicle molds on the market, including some you can pick up in the Dollar Store. Pour juice, tea, coffee or whatever flavor suits you and freeze. Ice cube trays work, as do the small paper bathroom cups.

For recipes and other idea check out 50 Amazing Homemade Popsicle Recipes and Ideas.

Drink Cucumber Water: Just cut up a cucumber and place in a large pitcher. Add water and ice. Very refreshing. You can also add lemon.

Skip the stove: Eat small meals that don’t involve cooking-salads, watermelon, and sandwiches or go out for a meal. Spicy foods are very popular in hot climates. Many swear that eating hot cools them down. Try a spicy salsa and chips and see how it works for you.

Use a fan to cool down: Even air condition after a while can feel hot. Adding a fan, to circulate the air, will make you feel cooler. Remember to turn it off if you aren’t in the room.

Spray yourself: Keep a spray bottle of water in the refrigerator. When you are particularly hot, say just coming in from outside, spray your face.

Catch a Matinee: In the heat of the day, chillin’ at the movies is a nice way to stay cool.

Cool your pulse points: Running your wrists under cold water, sticking your feet in the kiddies pool; and wrapping one of those Australian cooling ties around your neck are great ways to cool off.

Lie in a hammock and read a cool book: This maybe the time to read “Into Thin Air,” about the Mt. Everest expedition. “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder is a good read aloud with kids. If you are into snow sports, catch up on your ski magazines. Check out Cold Cases: Icy Books Offer Relief from the Heat.

Think cold: There are lots of movies out there with winter themes that can provide some chilly thoughts.

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