Pen & Ink: It's Hot!

You know what they say about heat and the kitchen.

It's been dangerously hot around here the last few days. Folks I've talked to have seen temperature readings in the upper 90s, though the official highs have been a couple degrees lower.

In the South, though, it's the humidity that gets you. With all the moisture, it feels like a hundred degrees or higher some days.

Southerners have always had some ways of beating the heat.

In many of the older homes around the South, you may notice the ceilings are extra tall, which lets the heat rise.

Front porches are also a mainstay. They're popular places for rocking in rocking chairs and sipping iced tea, which is a great way to stay out of the afternoon sun.

One of my fondest childhood memories revolves around a busted air conditioner and a couple of cans of Diet Coke.

It was summer, and as always seems to happen when it gets really hot, the air at the house wasn't working when my dad and I came home one afternoon.

It must've been in the 80s that day, and at 5:30 in the afternoon, it was probably 90 or better in the house. My dad flipped on the attic fan in the hallway of the house to pull the hot air out and get things circulating.

He called the A/C repair folks and we retired to the back porch to wait for things to cool off.

That's when my dad introduced me to the wonderful world of the Coke float.

We went back inside, pulled some vanilla ice cream (or was it butter pecan?) from the freezer, plopped some in some cups and poured Diet Coke over the top.

I must've been 8 or 9 at the time and I'd heard of root beer floats, but never had one and didn't know they could be made with any other sort of soda.

To my little-boy eyes, watching the froth collect on the top of the frosty beverage was a little magical.

Dad and I returned to the back porch, Coke floats in hand, and talked about the things dads and little boys talk about.

Dad had been at work all day in what I remember as a pretty stressful environment, and I knew the last thing he wanted to deal with was a busted air conditioner. But we talked and sipped and tried to keep our noses from getting covered in sweet foam.

I can't remember if we got the A/C working that night, but I remember the Coke floats and I remember the time we spent together on that back porch.

It wasn't any special occasion. It was just what you did when things went a little off the rails.

If we all took a little more time for Coke floats on the back porch with dad, it wouldn't be a bad thing at all.