To Glow or Not to Glow

By Rose Ann Sinay

“It’s so hot,” I complained for the umpteenth time, waiting for someone to commiserate with me. It was my first summer in North Carolina, and it was all I could do to open the door to the never-ending wall of sweltering humidity. Sensitive (sniff, sniff) to the uncomfortable combination, I was a prisoner in my home and to the air conditioner – my lifeline.

My southern friends raised an eyebrow and shrugged their shoulders. “This isn’t bad, just wait until July.”

I groaned. For the first time, I wondered if we’d made a mistake in retiring to the south.

“Look,” I said lifting my arms above my head. Low hanging, dark, wet circles stained my tee shirt.

The southern belle of the group (looking like she had just stepped out of a fashion magazine) with crisp, dry arm pits averted her eyes. “You are glowing,” she corrected me with her slow drawl. “Bless your heart. Maybe you should summer back up north. It’s not like you’re golfing or jogging, uh . . . what is it that you do”ť

“Write,” I said, red faced. “Yes, in the house with the air conditioner on.”

When we lived in the north, summer temperatures were pleasantly warm. In early August, there could be a damp, hazy heat-wave that would last a week, maybe two, tops. Here, that sultry combo seemed to last forever.

“You’ll get used to it,” another friend (a New Jersey transplant) whispered.

I realized I’d committed the ultimate gaffe. If I didn’t like southern climes, I didn’t have to stay. I certainly shouldn’t be complaining about it if I chose to remain. And, besides, I had been deliriously happy with the beautiful beach weather December through March. We changed the subject, and I decided to keep my feelings about the horrid heat to myself.

After a few years, I did acclimate to the heat and humidity (sort of). Occasionally, a complaint would slip out of my mouth out of habit and my own internal dialogue. No one listened anymore – it was just as well.

I was invited to bake and “glow” at the beach by friends on a regular basis. “It’s cooler by the water,” they cajoled. But I knew it wasn’t true during the endless dog days of summer. I declined those invitations to sit in the glaring sun and hot breeze (dense with fine grains of sand) that salted my body. I couldn’t read a book or hold a conversation while the “glow” cemented the sand in sensitive places.

Don’t get me wrong – I loved the beach when I was fifteen, living in Florida, sporting a size two bikini. My favorite activities were running along the beach and diving into small waves. I even loved the beach when I got sun poisoning after a day of blistering heat and an abundance of baby oil mixed with Mercurochrome. I had worn a new itsy bitsy swimsuit that day, revealing three inches of virgin ivory skin to the strong ultraviolet rays. Despite the vomiting, the angry red swath of painful skin that outlined my scanty two-piece, the blistering and dehydration – I couldn’t wait to feel the sand between my toes, again. My fifteen year old self couldn’t comprehend the repercussions of the damage done.

And, I don’t remember being bothered by sweat streaming out of every pore. Mixed with baby oil, I probably thought it was sexy. Perhaps, that’s the glow my southern friend was talking about.

Forty plus years later and arms that wouldn’t fit into the leg openings of that tiny beach wear, my outlook had changed. My only swimsuit with the extra long skirt had been pushed to the back of the drawer with the tags still attached. My limited beach attire had become shorts, a (baggy) t-shirt, large hat and a tube of sun screen in my pocket. I wouldn’t think of spending my day sitting under a blazing sun.

Ah, but North Carolina winters were wonderful. I loved walking the beach in my sweatshirt and jeans, as a cool breeze blew tangles in my hair. My husband rarely missed a day on the golf course. We were in heaven. But, like the comfortable Connecticut summers, the delightful southern winters were short lived. It was definitely a trade-off.

In 2017, after thirteen years of North Carolina living, my husband and I gave in to the guilt of our granddaughters growing up with phantom grandparents. To them, we were just overly animated faces that blew silly kisses over the small cell screen.

The week we moved back to Connecticut, there was a prediction of a snow storm – a biggie – eight to ten inches. I was excited. I hadn’t experienced a real snow storm in many years. We stacked the fireplace and stocked up on hot chocolate, popcorn and a bottle of Bailey’s. I bought a ready-to-eat rotisserie chicken and prepared a variety of sides. There was plenty of unpacking to do, and I had a box of unread books. Let it snow!

The precipitation was slow but steady. It lasted several days and when we finally emerged from the house, we shoveled for hours. It was so pretty – so New England.

After a short reprieve, another storm arrived and another after that. My husband got the flu, and shortly thereafter, so did I. Just making our way to the car to go to the doctor was exhausting.

I remembered why we had previously moved south.

It’s now the middle of May, and the pellet stove is roaring in the living room. I’m wearing a thick sweatshirt, huddled under a blanket. The forecaster said last week that temperatures would be rising soon. I browse through Facebook on the computer and admire pictures of my friends’ flower gardens. The hydrangea bushes at our old house would be in full bloom.

I remember the heat – the wonderful hot, sticky heat. I could use a little bit of it right now.

About this writer

  • Rose Ann Sinay

    Rose Ann Sinay

    Rose Ann Sinay is a freelance writer newly relocated to Connecticut. She continues to write about moments worth remembering, graciously provided by family and friends.

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10 Responses to “To Glow or Not to Glow”

  1. Colleen Wenthen says:

    So you! Thank goodness for a/c but I much prefer heat over cold. You are where you are suppose to be, but your southern friends miss you. Bless your heart

  2. Edie says:

    Nice story! You bring the climates to life with your colorful descriptions. I love New England seasons, but fantasize about living in a warm climate!

    • Rose Ann says:

      I guess the moral of the story is to thrive where we’re planted…and then get transplanted when the seedlings (grandchildren) arrive, lol.

  3. Joan Leotta says:

    As usual, Rose Ann has summed up life with humor, empathy …Miss you, dear friend! You are welcome to come and sweat or just sit in my AC with me..

  4. I think it’s 98 today here in Chapel Hill, NC! That fact should make you feel better about your move. I don’t mind the heat too much. As a kid in NJ , I loved the outdoors and wanted to live in a warm climate, and then one July we visited my cousins in Phoenix! So whenever I think about the heat here, I always say to myself: It could be worse! LOL

    • Rose Ann says:

      With Global Warming, our temperature zones could flip (along with everything else!) and we could both be in trouble, LOL!

  5. Linda O'Connell says:

    My husband says we wouldn’t want to LIVE in Florida because we have been so used to the four seasons in the Midwest. I’d at least like to find out.
    I do prefer heat to cold, though. LOL Great story!

  6. Tammy says:

    As usual you made me smile with your “glowing” descriptions of the heat. I must say as winter sets in my mind goes to the upcoming summer sun and can’t wait for it to get here and once its here all I dream of is crisp cool autumn days.

  7. Mary Ann says:

    I am “glowing” on the porch as I read your wonderful essay. Grandkids are magnets, aren’t they? And a bit sticky, too. I have fingerprints on the patio door I can’t bear to wash off. As usual, your words tug the heartstrings of family and nostalgia. Happy Trails, Rose!

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