There’s an old song hit song from the Big Band era that says “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.” The Noel Coward tune was enough of a favorite of U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill that the two reportedly argued over the lyrics. Turns out Roosevelt carried the day that time. In any case, best I can tell, neither disputed the song’s sentiment, even though they both hailed from cool climates – Roosevelt from New York and Churchill from a small town near Oxford, England.
Officially, we’re just a couple of weeks into summer, but let’s face it – we always start summer early here in Texas. I can assure you that what most folks (especially our friends up North) consider summer weather starts around the middle of March here and by the time we hit May, we’ve already turned it up to 11 and ripped off the knob.
I’ll never forget a story my father told me shortly before we moved to the South. He’d come down a few months ahead of the family. When he came back to get us in early May of ‘84, he told a story of driving in a rainstorm. He had hoped it would cool things down from the triple-digit heat, but – as he tells it – the rain stopped as quickly as it started, the sun came out and steam quite literally started to rise from the road he was driving on. He knew that first summer in the South was going to be a real treat.
We adjusted, of course. We figured out quickly that air conditioners are not really optional features on cars or houses down here. How Texans survived before AC was invented is still a bit of a mystery to me. Maybe those earlier Texans had the good sense not to join the mad dogs and Englishmen out in the midday sun. Or maybe Texans are just hardier than other folks. Chances are, at least based on the Texans I’ve had the privilege of knowing, it was a little of both.
At any rate, summer here comes early and stays late. It’s early July now, and we’re still just getting started. We have two solid months of summer left, then another month and a half of weather reminiscent of what the rest of the country considers summer coming after that. That’s plenty of time for swimming holes, sipping sweat tea and lemonade and all of the other things Texans do that make our summers not only bearable, but – at least for me – a favorite part of the state we all love so much.
By Scott Rutherford