It’s only mid-June, but the temps here are already hot enough to make anybody north of the Mason-Dixon line declare an official heatwave.
Of course, heat is relative. Here in Texas we have a heatwave every single dang summer.
I got to spend the first week of summer break in Indiana with my sister and her family, and the weather was the first thing that took me aback.
It was so pleasant. Like spring is here.
- When I went out on the back porch in the mornings to drink my coffee, I took a blanket with me.
- We went strawberry picking one day and my niece and nephew teased me ‘cause I kept talking about how cold it was.
- The next day I wore my denim jacket out and about and never once thought about taking it off.
Y’all that’s just weird.
I loved the cooler temps and getting to spend time with family, but I was also glad to get home.
Summer in Texas
The first night back, I walked out to the mailbox and instantly recalled why I’m so hooked on Texas summers, despite the sweltering heat.
There’s this certain smell in the air, and I can’t even describe it. But if you bottled it up or made a candle with the fragrance, you’d have to call it “Texas Summer.” It’s a unique blend of grass and leaves and humidity and is always — ALWAYS — accompanied by cicada song.
And it smells like home.
When I was a teen, our church youth group used to go on mission trip every summer to a little town outside of Del Rio, Texas. We stayed on a small ranch out in the boonies. All the boys slept in a cabin out back and showered with a water hose strung over a tree branch.
But we girls had it better.
We got to shower inside where there was hot water. And we slept on a screened in porch, our cots lined up just so. We fell asleep to the sound of crickets and woke up with the rooster’s crow.
And that scent, that “Texas summer” fragrance surrounded us, wafting over us while the sun rose and turned the sky the colors of a bruise — all blotchy purple, pink, and yellow.
Come mid-summer, we Texans talk about the weather. We complain about the heat, but we also wear it like a badge of honor, because we manage to tough it out every year and survive somehow.
So I write this blog post in defense of getting good and sweaty.
The Surprising Joy of Getting Hot & Sweaty
You see, during the school year, when there are agendas and schedules and school start times and the rigidity of the routine, I get up every day and fix my hair, put on makeup, pick out a cute outfit to wear.
Every single day.
Not so in summer. In fact, my favorite summer uniform is a tank top, shorts, and my hair pulled back into whatever kind of stubby ponytail I can muster.
And then I like to go do something that makes me all hot and sweaty.
Years ago, when I had just gotten a new teaching job and was moving into my own apartment for the first time, my Daddy and I refinished an old table out in his garage. It was sizzling that day and even in the shade, the sweat dripped into our eyes as we stripped and scraped and stained and varnished.
It was one of the best days ever.
When it was over, we had this thing we’d made new, a tangible reward for our hard work and sweat. From that moment I was hooked.
I’ve always loved working up a good sweat. Whether it’s pulling weeds and planting flowers in the garden, or painting some furniture out in the garage, getting hot and sweaty and actually accomplishing something feels so good.
And there’s nothing quite like coming inside to shower and clean up after putting in a hard day’s work.
During the school year I’m self conscious. I worry about how I look, which clothes are flattering or not, whether my makeup is perfect.
But when I’m getting hot and sweaty, I don’t worry about any of those things. I’m just me. Doing stuff I like to do. And not bothering to pretty myself up ahead of time since it’ll all get sweated off anyway.
Being hot and sweaty makes me feel alive, happy, and best of all — more like myself. The me who doesn’t have to check her appearance in the mirror for validation. Just the raw me.
And I think I could do with some more of that in my life.
What about you? What makes you feel most like yourself? What makes you forget about appearances and just enjoy life as it comes? Is it a particular place, or activity?
I’d love to hear about it in the comments!