There are times I wonder why the "glories" of summertime are so often extolled in music and poetry. In Sonnet XVIII Shakespeare compared a lady to a summer's day, presumably meaning it as a compliment. Chaucer welcomed "summer" with its "sun soft." "Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer" addresses the joys of the beach and the drive-in. In his song "Summertime" Gershwin wrote that the "livin' is easy." "In the Good Ol' Summertime," written by Ren Shields and George Evans, is a standard.
I rather suspect that if Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Gershwin had ever lived in Missouri, they would not think summertime was so glorious a time. In Missouri summer means two things: heat and humidity. The normal temperature for this time of year is 88 degrees, although it seems to me that it usually gets hotter than that. To make things worse, the humidity tends to be high as well--75% humidity is typical for a July day in Missouri. Needless to say, such weather is uncomfortable. Indeed, it is even life threatening. During the particularly hot summer of 1999, 61 people died. While not nearly as many people die during a typical Missouri summer, there are always some heat related deaths.
At any rate, the severity of Missouri summers convinced me long ago that T. S. Eliot was wrong. April is not the cruellest month. July is the cruellest month. It is the hottest month of the year. It is hardly lazy, crazy (athough it is hazy--the humidity, you know), soft, good, or comparable to a beautiful woman. In fact, I only know of one song that accurately describes summer in Missouri--"Summer in the City" by The Lovin' Spoonful. In describing the back of a neck that is "dirty and gritty" and a sidewalk that is "hotter than a match head," John Sebastian, Mark Sebastian, and Steve Boone summed up Missouri summer weather perfectly. Summer is nasty and uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, the worst of the summer is yet to come. As the month of July progresses, it will get steadily hotter and hotter. It will start to cool down a bit in August, but not significantly. For we Missourians, there won't really be any relief until September. I, for one, am really looking forward to that month...
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