There are beautiful summer days when you feel blessed to live in the Midwest. You wonder why you’d ever leave this part of the country to travel anywhere else. The sky is blue, the air is crisp, the fields are green and birds serenade outside every window. Yes, there are days like that. This is not one of them.
Today is the umpteenth consecutive morning the outdoor thermometer has said the humidity is 98 percent. The only time the humidity drops is when it is actually raining. The air is steamy and muggy. Nearly claustrophobic. When the legislature reconvenes, I’m going to propose a new state motto: “Indiana: Tropics of the Midwest.”
The air is so “close” as my father-in-law used to call it, that you could walk outside and shower on your front lawn. Not that I’d advise it. Plus, the shampooing part probably wouldn’t turn out well.
Our 4-year-old grandson likes to stick his head out a door every morning and report on the weather. “It’s a little bit breezy and a little bit chilly,” he tells me.
“Good to know,” I say.
Minutes later, the husband walks into the kitchen. “Tell Grandpa what the weather is like today.”
“It’s a little bit hot and a little bit cold.”
He’s living the cliché every city claims: “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change.”
Last year, when we had a long, miserable run of hot and humid, I was checking out at a store and the clerk said she was from the South and absolutely loved the humidity. I thought about shaking some sense into her, but I didn’t. One, because it would have been the wrong thing to do, and two, I was too weakened by the humidity.
For those of you unfamiliar with claustrophobic, oppressive humidity, there are actually three types of humidity. There is plain old humidity, which refers to the amount of water in the air as measured by women with naturally curly hair. A friend claims it has been so humid that her hair has been curled like a poodle’s since early June. She says when she needs a trim, she’ll probably have to book an appointment at PetSmart.
Relative humidity refers to the percentage of people that make you feel claustrophobic and closed-in at a family gathering.
Specific humidity refers to the specific point in time you resolve to do something about the humidity by Googling “U.S. cities with lowest humidity.”
The top four answers are Phoenix, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Denver.
Each and every one is a long way to travel to enjoy a bout of fresh air and a morning cup of coffee on a stranger’s patio. I’m not ruling it out.
Lori Borgman is an Indianapolis columnist. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.