The Dragon Of Summer

The heat index was right at one hundred degrees on the day that I got the idea for this article.
As I journeyed down Highway #9 on my way back home from downtown, suddenly I spotted a man walking with his shirt off and sweat all over his upper, exposed body. I knew before I reached him that my compassion and conscience were not going to allow me to pass by him without stopping and offering him a ride. Once he entered my truck, he immediately expressed gratitude to me for stopping and giving him a ride. I had no way of knowing how far he had already walked on this hot and humid day before I had stopped to pick him up.
From the point where I picked him up, he had three more miles to go to reach his destination. The dragon of summer that spews out heat and humidity on days like this particular day was certainly attacking this poor fellow, who felt relieved and delivered from its fury once he entered the air conditioned cab of my truck. At this writing (which is on the official first day of summer, June 21, 2018), the temperature is projected to be in the upper nineties with a heat index to be in the lower hundreds. In the remainder of my column today, I am going to focus on how we can battle and overcome the scourge of summer.
There was a time in my life (when I was in my twenties through mid-thirties) when I had to battle the dragon of summer because I worked as a bricklayer with my father’s construction crew. To be honest about it, I was thrust into this arena of conflict and the heat and humidity of summer when I was around twelve years of age. My father started my brothers and me out early as laborers for his crew of bricklayers. Every year when school was out, we had to toil in the heat and humidity of the summertime. We had no say-so in the matter. Two of my greatest battles with the dragon of summer occurred while I worked with my father and brothers as both a laborer and bricklayer.
The first scrimmage with this deadly, climatic beast took place in the summer of 1969. I was seventeen years old and we were working on the school that is now Marlboro Academy. It was so hot and humid on this particular day that every one of my father’s bricklayers and laborers “monkeyed” (quit) and sought shade and relief under some trees. Everyone “monkeyed”, except my father and his sons. I can truly admit now that I wanted to quit and that I had “monkeyed” like the others, but was too scared of my father and did not want to be teased and taunted by my brothers. Because if I had, I would have been labeled as the “monkey boy” from then on. So, I forced myself to hang in there. The last great battle I had with the dragon of summer occurred during my last day working as a bricklayer. Ironically, we were busy working on the brick fence for Mr. A.B. Jordan III, which was over thirty years ago during the dog days of summer. To make matters worse, my baby brother was busy taunting me. Perhaps it was a combination of his picking and the oppression from the heat and humidity that got next to me. Whatever the reason, I told my father that I was calling it quits and I never returned to the profession of bricklaying.
Right here, I want to give you some sound instructions of how to survive and maintain your health and coolness during the scourge of summer’s heat and humidity.
Perhaps at the top of the list of the do’s and don’ts of dog days is to avoid going outside during the heat of the day, except you work on the outside on jobs like lawn care, construction, highway paving, roofing, and etc. If you have a task to do outside, start early in the morning (around 6:00 a.m.) and work at it until around 11:00 a.m. Keep this routine each day until you complete the task. The next way to beat the heat and humidity is to make sure you drink a lot of water and fluids with electrolytes in it. Then be sure that you dress appropriately for the season. Wear clothes that are light in color and thinly layered. It is absolutely important that both your air conditioning in your house and automobile are working properly and proficiently. This is especially true if you or one of your dependent loved ones have a breathing problem like asthma, emphysema, C.O.P.D., and such like. Also, please do not leave your under aged children or pets in your vehicle while you go inside an establishment to transact business. It does not take but a little while during the dog days of summer for a person (especially a child) or a pet to die from dehydration and heatstroke.
As I bring this special edition in regard to combatting the dreaded and deadly dragon of summer to an end, perhaps the best weapon against this beast that uses the heat and humidity against us frail and finite humans is our own common senses. It may perhaps be the very thing that will give you an advantage over the beast if you will use them.

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