Sunday, June 05, 2005

Summer--sweat, sweat--Has Arrived in Cincinnati

"Summer has arrived," my son announced over lunch at Chipotle today.

We like to go to the Mexican fast food place for lunch after Sunday worship. The menu appeals to our whole family and it's quick enough for us to eat something we enjoy before our son has to be off for work.

Or, before my wife has to be gone. A full-time school librarian, as I dove into my Steak Bowl, she was already off to her other job at a greeting card store today. She drove to the store immediately after worship was done and she'd had the chance to chat with a few of her friends, who had visited our church for the first time.

Our daughter, to be married in two weeks, was also eating with us. She too, has a job that sometimes take her away on Sundays. But not today.

Our daughter's fiance and our son work for the same airline, our soon-in-law during the days, our son at nights. It's not their ultimate life ambitions. The soon-in-law has a degree in Business and Accounting. The son just picked up his degrees in History and Philosophy and is earning money for now, with plans for going to grad school.

Our son's pronouncement, "Summer has arrived," wasn't a mere statement of fact.

Nor was it said with any appreciation.

The Cincinnati area, which sets deep in the Ohio River Valley, is notorious for its summers: hot, muggy, sticky. As my wife has said many times in the nearly-fifteen years we've lived in Cincinnati, "It's hard to imagine why people decided to move here in the first place."

What makes it worse is that summer in Cincinnati usually begins within a week of the start of the baseball season and continues through August. It's five months in a sauna! I've been in San Antonio in August; Cincinnati's not that bad. But then, who would perspire...uh, aspire to that, anyway?

Lifelong residents will tell you, "In Cincinnati, we just skip spring."

Except this year. This year, but for a tad too little rain, something that concerns farmers all across Ohio, we've had a beautiful spring: Day after lovely day of temperate weather, clear skies, bright sunshine, gentle breezes, and robust walking punctuated by lovely talks with neighbors and friends. I've almost been giddy with the unprecedented pleasure of it.

The young men of our family have been pleased beyond expression, their emotions like kids who've gotten away with something they shouldn't have done.

Their jobs take them into the bellies of the planes to drag out passengers' luggage. Even in winter's cold, they have to strip down to their street clothes while doing this. It's too hot otherwise.

My son started his job there in January and so for months, has been hearing seasoned veterans tell him, "Wait 'til the summer, P-Diddy." (His work nickname is P-Diddy, a bit of an improbable moniker for a kid whose musical tastes run to organic rock and classical music. But that's what they call him and he loves it.)

Now, waiting to go to work, at a job he's been surprised at liking so well, he was bracing himself. Summer has arrived. When I arrived at our church building today, more than a half-hour before the early birds, the place was already hot and humid. As the morning wore on, temps were in the 90s and the humidity was up there in swamp territory. P-Diddy wasn't looking forward to crawling into the innards of those planes.

My future son-in-law walked in the door here a few moments ago. "How was it?" I ask. "The heat and humidity were killers today," he says. "I bet I drank about a gallon of Gatorade." Then, referring to the prospect of moving to Florida, something he and my daughter sometimes discuss, he tells me, "It reminded me: This is what Orlando is like."

There are some jobs I've had in years gone by, my primary memories of which are sweating. I sweated while repairing guard rail for the Highway Department, building air conditioners in an un-air conditioned factory, and so on.

As much as I love summer, I don't envy those who have to be out in it when summer is at its hottest--roofers, blacktoppers, construction workers, and...airline baggage handlers. Drink lots of Gatorade...and, I hope that you've got people praying for your health and saftety the way I'm praying those gifts into the lives of the two baggage handlers in our family this summer.

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