Nobody says hello anymore. They say, “Can you believe it is this hot?”

“It is too hot out there!”

“How are you making it in this heat?”

“It’s still hot as ...”

And someone always says, “It’s too hot to do anything.” But that’s not true.

Yes, it is too hot to take out the garbage.

It may be too hot to fish. It is certainly too hot to weed flower beds.

It may be too hot to walk or run or hike, even on a wooded trail. It might be too hot to work on a car or a lawnmower, even under a shade tree.

It is often too hot to cook — despite my air-conditioned kitchen.

But it’s never too hot to pick up barbecue.

I may be a singular voice arguing this point, but I think it is very often too hot to go to the beach in the daylight hours of summertime. Now the shore, as the sun goes down and the tide comes roaring in, is another matter. An evening on the beach either walking or sipping coffee in a chair is worth a 300-mile drive. And in the daytime, while avoiding the beach, one can always — read.

It is never too hot to go for an ice cream or a frozen yogurt. Never too hot to cut open a watermelon. Or make your own ice cream.

It is never too hot to wade in a creek or run through a sprinkler or stomp on a splash pad.

Did you know that televisions give off heat? And boring shows make the world seem hotter. Some people would say: Watch a movie, go into a darkened theater and escape the blasting sun for a few hours. That’s OK.

But I say go to your chair and read. It’s never too hot to read.

When I was a little girl we did not have air conditioning. My little block house sat on a hilltop with one puny walnut tree that mama had planted in the back yard. My room was a furnace even with windows opened. But I sat on my bed, propped on my pillows and read while the sweat dropped down onto my library books. If Mama didn’t need it in the kitchen, I moved the box fan into the living room, darkened by pulled curtains, and lay in front of it on the cool hardwood floors — and read, or did puzzles, or played jacks, pickup sticks or card games.

If Mama would let me, I would take my book and visit our next door neighbor whose front screened porch and south-facing side yard were tucked under several huge oaks. If those leaves weren’t rustling at all and the porch became stuffy, our neighbor Mim would make us lemonade or tea or plain iced water. Mim sometimes had a book of her own. She got the Reader’s Digest books in the mail. She did not go to the library. She could drive, but she didn’t have a car.

In the evening, when the summer sun had moved over our house and almost behind our hill, I sat on the back steps and read until it was too dark to see the words on the page.

It’s never too hot to go shopping.

It’s never too hot to go to church. Well, it never was too hot. Most churches are cool places these days, but in my youth they were places where your slip stuck to you. (No one ever went slipless to church!) Churches were hot buildings crowded with sweaty people. I learned to wriggle a little as the sweat rivers flowed down my neck into the pockets of talcum powder that dammed the flow. I just plied the funeral home fan and sang and watched the faces of the men get redder. Especially those whose wives would not let them remove their suit coats.

I have not suffered in this heat as much as others. Granted I have air con, as they say in Australia. I don’t have to go out and work in the heat, but also I like the heat and embrace it.

When a group of us get into a hot, hot car that has been sitting in the sun, I love the feeling. Is that what a sauna feels like? If I am alone, I sit still and go into a sort of trance. If I am with a group, someone is usually whining and yelling, “Turn on the air conditioning, get us some air in here.”

I have learned not to say, “Enjoy it! Revel in it! Melt into the heat! Relax!” Because I know I am weird.

So next week, we’ll be saying, “Will this rain ever stop?”

“It is too wet to plow, too wet to walk, too wet to drive or shop.”

But it is never too wet and rainy to read.

Cheryl Hilderbrand is a Jackson writer and educator. Email her at