Tennessee Mountain Stories

Summer’s Heat


We’re still a ways from the “Dog Days” of summer but it really seems to have heated up.  I think summer’s heat hurts me worse the more time I spend in the air-conditioned house; well that’s just logical I suppose since your body gets a little shock every time you suddenly go from the 70-something house to the 90-something outdoors.  And every passing year (and pound) increases the summer’s impact.

Still I can’t help but remember the days that I spent in fields picking beans or even helping with haying.  Even if I was just driving the truck while it was stacked high with square-baled hay, it was hot – that was almost worse because you couldn’t get much air and I remember the vent in the truck would throw so much dirt in my face that I almost preferred to have it off and catch whatever breeze would come through the truck’s rolled-down windows.

Now this is not an essay on global warming and without jumping into those theories I want to tell you it really was hot when I was a kid on the mountain.  Of course we didn’t have central air and I remember candles melting from the ambient heat in the house, squeaky screen doors open day and night and the relative cool to be found in the barns with their big stock doors and concrete or dirt floors.  Of course the barns only seemed cool until you had to start loading hay or chasing a cow.  And of course every evening everyone would go out on the porch after the afternoon sun had heated the house and the stove didn’t help any when supper was cooked.  I always thought it would be wonderful to have a television on the porch because there would be shows I was wanting to watch but it was so much more pleasant on the porch – what a dilemma.

And I had it easy.  Never did I spend a full day chopping corn.  Certainly I never worked a shift in the coal mine and then walked home.  These are the memories of a child who had the leisure to splash in every creek or mudhole that invited me, or to find a piece of shade and read for an hour.  The burdens are certainly heavier on adults with worries about how the dry weather would stunt the crops, whether we’d raise enough food for survive the winter or even the heat’s effect on fattening cattle were foreign to me.

Life has certainly changed on the mountain; I think the changes have softened us, made us to spend more time complaining about life’s little inconveniences and less time rejoicing in our blessings.  God has given us heat for sure, but there’s also lush green grass and trees, baby animals in spring and summer and fresh vegetables out of the garden.  So when we’re complaining about the heat lets remember how good we’ve got it!

I hope you’ll share your memories from hot summers past.

Now I have to get a glass of iced tea.