With the temperature climbing, and the good old summertime about to cover the country like a horse blanket, it's definitely time to update my annual list of heat-beaters.
Feel free to clip and save, mix and match, and add your own favorites:
1. Forget talk radio and 24/7 television news. Switch to the classical station. Or your collection of old swing records. Watch an old movie (preferably one set in a cold climate) instead of "The O'Reilly Factor." Try not to think about Alberto Gonzales or Karl Rove, Dick Cheney or Chris Matthews, Charles Schumer or the Clintons, either one. Cool down the mind.
2. Delete all unwanted e-mails without opening them. Especially if they're from types who are always a little hot under the collar anyway. But if you must open them, under no circumstances reply; it only encourages 'em. You've got more productive things to do with your time, like relaxing in air-conditioned comfort.
3. Recall the lightest, most elegant, interesting dessert you ever had. (I nominate zabaglione over half a perfect peach.) Or just have a piece of cold watermelon. With a little salt.
4. Make some fresh lemonade. Or as Robert Benchley once advised, get out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini.
5. Think on the pure, crystalline beauty of the Pythagorean Theorem.
6. Don't try to figure out the infield fly rule one more time; just settle back and watch the game. Linger over the replays in slow motion. Don't move too fast yourself.
7. Avoid watching sit-coms, playing rock'n'roll, listening to TV shout shows, arguing politics, worrying about the future or regretting the past. "Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you."-Satchel Paige. Epictetus the Stoic might have said something like that, too, but not half so well.
8. Decorate with green, leafy things, but not kudzu.
9. Take siestas; arrange to live in the early morning and after twilight.
10. Don't hurry back, or anywhere else. "Nothing can be more useful to a man than a determination not to be hurried."-Henry David Thoreau. He must have been a Southerner at heart.
11. Park in the shade.
12. Key lime pie.
13. Wear a hat. With a broad brim.
14. Give the kids a nap. Take one yourself.
15. Sit on the front porch. In a swing. Under a fan. Especially if it's glassed-in, air-conditioned, in the shade, and surrounded by cool greenery.
16. Read last January's weather news, with special attention to blizzards and ice storms. Think glaciers.
17. Take a thimble-sized cup of hot soup before supper to whet the appetite.