Summertime Torpor

My friend Amy volunteered a great adjective for her version of the slowdown of Summer. She says the season is languid. I told her that I like the word languid but it’s a bit arcane and some people think it’s a bit too sensuous. I was trying to think of a title for this bluejayblog post. Then, at the very same moment, we said the word “torpor”. Languid is close to what I was thinking about summertime, but the word mainly describes the physical nature. Torpor is more accurate because it describes physical and mental sluggishness.

When the thermometer reaches at least 90F (32C) and the relative humidity locks in at about 80%, my mental jukebox automatically plays the melody from George Gerswin’s “Summertime”. The tune is simply the perfect audio impression of a muggy summer. There are many versions in many styles of the song. My favorite versions are big band and swing renditions. However, one of the greatest performances of the number was done in the spirit of the original concept.

This outtake from Gershwin’s “Porgy And Bess” is great: .

by George and Ira Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward

And the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’
And the cotton is high

Oh, Your daddy’s rich
And your mamma’s good lookin’
So hush little baby
Don’t you cry

One of these mornings
You’re going to rise up singing
Then you’ll spread your wing
And you’ll take to the sky

But until that morning
There’s a’nothing can harm you
With your daddy and mammy standing by

And the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’
And the cotton is high

Your daddy’s rich
And your mamma’s good lookin’
So hush little baby
Don’t you cry

(© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., EMI Music Publ.)

There are regularly scheduled community events during summer. I’m not really certain why fairs must take place during the least comfortable time of the season. At least there are plenty of opportunities to just sit. Albeit in direct sunlight without a hint of a breeze.

Lately, schools begin their teaching schedules in August. Frequently the heat causes problems with air conditioning and ventilation of the buildings. That means the pupils are sent home. Sometimes these days off are chalked up as snow days. I love the irony.

The most steamy summer days are not at all hygienic. You can get all scrubbed and fresh in the shower. The very instant you step outdoors, you are suddenly glistening with a coating of sweat. Within minutes your clothing becomes clammy and begins to stick to you. Soon enough your shirt is soaked. Wardrobe hint: wear white or black to hide the wetness. The worst choice is heather grey! Either way, back slapping and hugs are rather grody during a heat wave. People look for excuses to be near water. A person could go swimming, wash the car or hose down the house.

Personally, when I’m exposed to industrial strength summer weather, I prefer a shady location with access to large quantities of ice tea. There should be a chaise longue or two for seating and dozing off. Hot foods and cooking just seem to be all wrong for a steamy day. I suppose they were OK back in the day when farmers worked up hearty appetites for large quantities of food while toiling in the fields. I just don’t like the idea of firing up the range to fry up supper. Even the idea of something piping hot from the microwave seems a little off. Give me cool, crisp salads and tasty cold dishes. Fruit or frozen desserts are perfect in August.

Probably the best part of summer for many Nebraskans is the implied permission to gripe about the heat and humidity. Nobody is going to deprive you of that right. Besides that, it’s a great conversation starter.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Russell Baker, “Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
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