1. Do Not Underestimate the Power of the Kiddie Pool
My youngest niece was going stir-crazy cooped up inside Grandma’s house this July, but in the height of summer’s heat—and chigger season—we dreaded heading outdoors. I grabbed the vinegar and garden hose anyway, and bravely scrubbed off Grandma’s cobweb-covered wading pool. As we adults sat in the shade watching the girl splash around in her swim diaper, our feet draped over the edge into that cool water, we never would have guessed it was a 90-degree day. Kiddie pools, it turns out, are not just for kids.
Don’t have a wading pool? A big bucket works just as well. But if sitting around the yard with your feet in a pail makes you feel unsophisticated, class it up with a nice glass of icy sangria.
2. Smooth it Out with Lime & Cucumber
My other favorite summertime bev was introduced to me by a family member who was experimenting with a new eating regimen that consisted of . . . actual food. Diet or no, this smoothie is a great drink to chill out with.
Peel the rind off half a lime, remove any seeds and the core, and toss the lime into the blender. Add a whole cucumber (unpeeled for a more pleasing color), half a tray of ice, and a splash of water. I also prefer to spoon in a little sugar to balance out the zing of the lime. Try a touch of maple syrup, xylitol (fewer calories than sugar, with negligible effects on blood sugar), monk fruit, or your sweetener of choice. Blend until frothy. (Serves two: you and your hot date.)
I find the slight chewiness of this lightly tart smoothie to be satisfying and totally delicious. I also poured the whole batch through a strainer once, which was super yummy too.
From an Ayurvedic standpoint, these ingredients are great for cooling the body; cucumbers and lime pacify that fiery “pitta” beast within. If you tell me, however, that iced beverages will “dampen the fires of agni” and weaken my digestion, I’m sorry, but I’m going to drink this smoothie anyway. You can go soak your head.
3. Go Soak Your Head
The Girl Scouts of America taught me this trick. If you are forced to work (or play) outdoors in hotter than desirable weather, dribble the remains of your not-really-cold-anymore bottled drinking water onto a bandana and tie that thing around your body someplace, preferably your head or your neck. Soothing! Chilly! Feel cool and look even cooler.
4. Get Thee to a Basement
Ever been in a hot basement? Me neither.
5. Reach for Rose
One of my favorite remedies for calming the heat in my body—and my emotions—is rose. Rose. Rose. Rose. I love it so. Spritzing yourself in the face with water is a refreshing pleasure. Spritzing yourself in the face with rose water is a downright religious experience.
I drink the stuff up. Literally. A second bottle of rose water (from the Indian food section of my grocery store) can be found in my refrigerator all summer long. I add a few drops to my water bottle for the ultimate hydration elation. Good for the heat. And good for the heart.
6. Cave it Up
Unless you’ve gone solar already, keeping that air conditioner running is pricey, man. It may seem like a no-brainer, but leaving your shades and curtains drawn in the daytime will keep your home cooler—and your energy bill low enough that you won’t need to cry.
If, however, your shades were recently destroyed by your cat, do what I do and cultivate shade of another kind. Those overgrown volunteer trees and mega weeds on the south side of my home might seem unsightly, neglectful even, but I tell you I’m waiting until fall to cut mine down. Right now all that extra shade is blocking my living room from the white-hot hellfire of August. I just hope I don’t start getting extra heat from the weed police. Or my neighbors. With any luck, my glorious display of technicolor snapdragons will distract and confuse passersby into thinking I care about my yard.
While we’re on the topic of finding a hole to crawl into, if you need a survivable summer day trip with the kiddos, visit one of Iowa’s natural caverns! Maquoketa Caves State Park, Crystal Lake Caves, and Starr’s Cave Nature Center offer tolerable temperatures and totally cool views year-round.
7. Swallow Your Pride and Put on a Swimsuit
Cellulite began appearing on my legs in fifth grade—at the very peak of my physical fitness—so I don’t wanna hear about it. No matter how bad you think you look in a bathing suit, there is still nothing like being submerged in water. Aqua blue, over-chlorinated, just-lower-than-body-temperature water. I don’t care how many kids have spit in it. The pool is my heaven.
Listen. There are only a few things in this mortal life that can make a person say out loud, “Oh yeeeeeeeesssssssss.” Swimming is one of them. Why would you deny yourself that joy for the sake of vanity?
If you still dread exposing yourself in public, the good news is, swim shirts are totally a thing now. Even the cool kids are wearing them. You, too, could be cool. Just get yourself to the pool.