We’re in it now, the midst of Florida’s high summer, a time of crushing humidity, relentless heat and inescapable and nearly permanent perspiration.
I know of what I speak, having spent more than 50 summers in Florida. That’s 50 summers of hot asphalt scorching the bottoms of bare feet, fearsome lightning and wrath-of-God gulley-washing thunderstorms.
I was thinking about our summers this morning as I cycled the Pinellas Trail, blazing a path through the sunshine and heat. Frankly, it didn’t feel bad. Really. Not even at 8:45 a.m. when I pedaled past a Palm Harbor time and temperature sign that proclaimed it was 85 degrees. Already.
During summer bike rides I do something more often than I do the rest of the year. I’ll stop along the Pinellas Trail at Wall Spring Park or atop an overpass above Alternate 19, take a water bottle and spritz my wrists and the back of my neck.
When I return to my mom and sister’s house in Dunedin after a ride or walk on the trail I typically sit on the front porch for a while, a cup of coffee on a glass table to my right and a book in my hands.
Not today. Not in high summer. As soon as I entered the air-conditioned sanctuary of their home, I decided to remain inside. I curled up with a book and drank a little coffee in the living room. Not on the front porch.
Oh, and the book? As a reader I always want to know what somebody is reading when they mention a book.
My book for the Fourth of July weekend is “Skyline,” a 1961 journalism memoir by a now largely forgotten writer named Gene Fowler.
I may not sit outside on the front porch after a bike ride again until September, when the first oh-so-slight, oh-so-welcome break in temperature and humidity arrives.
Now, though, this is the hottest time of year. As an unofficial Weather Geek, I visited weather.com. where I confirmed that this is, indeed and officially, the hottest time of year.
In Fort Myers, where I reside, the average high temperature is 92 from June 9 to Aug. 27. That’s the highest average high temperature of the year.
It’s so relentlessly hot this time of year that there are nights when the temperature never dips below 70 in Fort Myers. Never has. There are three dates in July and 11 in August when the record – record! – low temperature in Fort Myers is 70.
Circle this date: Aug. 15. On that date the record low in Fort Myers is 71.
I grew up in Florida and I’m used to it. I know what to expect this time of year. I know the steering wheel in my car will be too hot to touch when it’s been in the summer sun.
Like most Floridians I adjust.
One of my workouts I try to do at least once a week is something I call the Rutenberg Ramble. I reside about a mile from a place called Rutenberg Park.
I often do a slow jog – all I’m capable of – to the park where I’ll run 50-yard and 100-yard “sprints” on the football field.
In May I was doing 20 50s and six 100s. I’ve cut back to my summer workout of a dozen 50s and two 100s. A laughable workout for runners but I’m not a runner.
I typically do the workouts without drinking any water. On my most recent rambles, though, I’ve walked over to a water fountain at the park, placed a hand under the weak stream of warm water and splashed it over my head and wrists and neck.
I need the water. I’m not close to any sort of ill effects from the heat but the water revives me.
This is high summer. This is Florida. Spritzing and splashing water on their necks and wrists is how Floridians make it through July and August.
Oh, if you drive by my mom and sister’s house in Dunedin anytime soon don’t expect to see me on the front porch reading a book.
Drive by, though, in the middle of September or certainly later in that month and you may see some sweaty dude on the front porch, a cup of coffee on a glass table next to him and a book in his hands.
Meanwhile, I’m hunkering down in the air conditioning.