Wednesday, June 21, 2017

How Do You Cool Off in the Summer?

Mara here:

Yikes! It's hot! Here in California, we're having a bit of a heat wave. Contrary to what people believe about California, unless you live on the coast, it gets hot—triple digits hot!

Growing up in northern California, our house didn't have air conditioning. There were several weeks of the year when the temperatures were unbearable. Fortunately, we did have a swimming pool and I remember spending endless hours in the pool simply trying to keep cool when summer temperatures arrived. 

As I've gotten older, my tolerance for the heat has significantly decreased. If I'm too warm, I have trouble concentrating and I get very irritable (even more irritable than I normally am, haha!).

My husband and I fortunately have air conditioning in our home, but even with air conditioning, sometimes I feel too warm. Short of turning our entire house into a refrigerator, which neither the environment nor our bank account would appreciate, I've come up with a few things I do when summer arrives to help keep myself cool.

Frozen Bananas

Eating frozen bananas is a recent discovery. If you let bananas become very ripe and then cut them into slices and freeze them, they are a delicious treat! And they cool me down, sometimes I'm even shivering by the time I've finished a bag of them. This was a nice discovery for me because I can't eat dairy, so bananas are a perfect alternative. You can also blend them with fruit to make delicious frozen smoothies. 

Wet Hair

I normally shower in the evenings. I started doing that when I was young because my hair was very long and it was too cold in the mornings to go to school with wet hair. Not being a fan of how long it took to blow dry my hair, I started showering at night. During the summer though, I sometimes jump in the shower in the morning or even just run my head under the faucet because having my hair damp during the day helps keep me cool!

Resting on the Wood Floors

This is another things I started doing when I was a child. It would sometimes be so hot at night in my childhood home, I couldn't sleep. I discovered that if I slept directly on the wood floors, spread out like a cat, I'd cool off and fall asleep. I don't sleep the whole night on the floor anymore because my achy body would never forgive me, but there have been quite a few nights my husband has woken up in the middle of the night to find me reading on our floor as he tries to walk to the bathroom. Everyone I know thinks it's strange that I do this, but honestly it cools me off so quickly!

Toni here:

Mara lives in southern California and I'm in northern California—yes, northern California, but not the Bay Area where it rarely gets really hot. I'm in the northern part of what we call the Central Valley, which used to be mostly farmland and now has big cities like Fresno, Stockton, and Sacramento.

And wow has it been hot here. Hot, as in 108 degrees, although I read that Phoenix and other cities in the southwest of the U.S. have been as high as 120. (BTW, I'm using Fahrenheit as the measure. I still don't think in Celsius.) 

Here are two things I do to keep cool. 

My new invention: a wet towel around the back of my neck

This only works if I'm not lying down, unless I don't care if my pillow gets wet. I got the idea while I was watching the Australian and then the French Open tennis tournaments on TV this year. On hot days, during the two minute break after every two games, I'd see the players put an ice bag around the back of their necks. Unfortunately, I don't like to put ice on my body, even when I know it's what I'm supposed to do when, for example, my knee hurts. So a wet towel it is.

Pray to the air conditioning gods that it won't stop working

Here's a little story. Yes, while Mara and her brother were growing up in this house, we didn't have air conditioning. (I'm sorry, Mara.) For some reason, I thought putting it in would cost something like $20,000 dollars, so I told them we'd have to make do with our swamp cooler. It worked okay so long as: (a) it wasn't hotter than about 95 degrees (or maybe it was 90—you'd have to ask Mara); and (b) it wasn't humid, which isn't common in the Central Valley but does happen from time to time. 

After Mara and her brother moved out, one September weekend they came to Davis with their spouses for a wedding of a close friend. It was incredibly hot. Everyone took a cool shower or at least toweled off before getting dressed up for the wedding (which was being held outside, with my husband officiating). Within minutes of getting dressed, we were all sweating again. 

As I recall, Mara (who is always brutally honest—something I love about her) said something like: "If you want us to come back, you'll have to get air conditioning."

I didn't know if she was serious, but I didn't want to test her (!), so I got an estimate for putting in central heat and air. (We also only had wall heaters.) I was embarrassed to find that it was only about $2,000. We had it put in and, wow, was that fortuitous for me because this chronic illness of mine finds the heat to be unbearable. 

And that's why I'm praying to the air conditioning gods during this heat wave! 

[Update: last night, our air conditioner broke. A goofy friend of mine used to call this type of happening "the cosmic perversity principle."]


Do you have things you like to do to cool yourself down when it's hot? We hope you share them in the comments.


  1. Here in Houston, TX, the heat/humidity combo are unbearable for me. If I have to be outside, I wear the cooling cloth soaked in cold water around my neck. The heat makes me drink more water, that's a good thing! The heat zaps what energy I may have, so I run errands early. Grocery delivery is wonderful. I pray to the AC gods too!

    1. Yes we are fortunate to have relatively low humidity in CA. I lived in Virginia for a few years and the humidity was intense! Definitely makes the heat much harder to deal with! I also run errands early in the summer when I can! Getting into a hot car is the worst! Hope you're staying cool--M