There’s no accounting for tastes.
Over the five years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve written a number of what I consider important posts – posts that would make excellent candidates for my most popular post ever.
I’ve written about diversity in storytelling: that a story isn’t a reverential visitation that’s immune to the deliberate inclusion of diverse characters, and about how diverse characters can just be in a story without their gender/race/orientation/etc. being the explicit point of the whole thing.
I’ve written about how “strong female characters” in science fiction and fantasy are often equated solely with physical strength, emotional distance, and hypermasculine attitudes and actions.
I’ve written about my observations of racial divisions in New Orleans, and how they seem to reinforce further divisions by class and preclude opportunities for personal advancement.
There’s an entire list of my favourite posts on my blog’s sidebar.
Yet of the 224 posts published on this blog with its nearly 25,000 views, it’s an entirely different post that’s been clicked on above and beyond the rest.
This particular post has been accessed nearly 2000 times. That’s 8% of my site’s total views, and almost 30% more than the total clicks on my home page and archives.
This most popular post has three times more views than the next most popular post – one which I suspect only became popular because it used to have a map of Tolkien’s Middle Earth as its headline image (I later changed it). The post has nearly four times as many hits as my third most accessed one.
Oh, and this post in question is barely a year old.
It is none other than the one entitled How to Keep Your Water Bottle Cold All Day in the Summer.
Seek and ye shall find
I wish I were joking about this. Or that it were some kind of fluke.
However, the history of search terms for my site is littered with variations on the same hot and thirsty theme:
- “Freezing water bottles on a hot day”
- “How to keep a water bottle cold”
- “How to keep water bottle cool in summer”
- “How to keep water cold”
- “How to keep water cold in hot weather”
- “Keeps drinks cold all day”
Not to mention the permalink to the post itself.
(There are also numerous searches for “map of Middle Earth” and “LOTR maps”, which tells me I was right to change the lead image on that particular post.)
Keeping one’s water cold under the sun is clearly an important issue to people. Folks are feeling the burn, it would seem, and are turning up at my site in search of a solution.
All things considered, I can respect that. I wrote the post for a reason, after all, and there are many places in the world far hotter than in the summer than my native Canada.
As such, to further assist these parched and perspiring visitors to my blog, I offer the following additional tips to help one keep cool during summer:
(Don’t) colour your world
Although more difficult to keep clean and supposedly not as slimming, light colours – such as white and beige or pale yellow – reflect light while dark ones – like black, navy, and dark brown – absorb it.
When the light source in question is good old Father Sun, absorbed light also means absorbed heat.
So when the weather is scorching, have a care with the red wine and ketchup, embrace your inner 1970s smooth operator, and thrown on some pastel.
Bare all (that you can)
Personally, once the weather turns warm, you’ll never see me in a shirt that has sleeves.
Part of this is due to my excessive vanity and horror of the dreaded farmer’s tan. Another part is because my arms are easily my best physical feature and deserve to be shown off.
But more than anything, I do this because bare skin will release heat and evaporate sweat far better than skin that’s covered in layers of clothing.
Of course, not everyone is able to walk around with bared body parts, be it a matter cultural custom, social conventions of the setting, personal modesty, or extreme sun sensitivity. In this case, wear as lightweight and loose a garment as possible for greater air flow.
As well, ensure your clothes are made from natural fabrics like light cotton or linen (or even wool, believe it or not) since synthetic fabrics tend not to breathe well and thus trap heat against your skin.
Go (partially) undercover
Wearing a hat in summertime makes a lot of sense: it helps keep the sun out of your eyes and off of your face, the latter of which is a great way to help stay cool.
Yet, hats also cover the top of your head, which can make you feel even hotter. (There’s a reason your mother always yelled at you to put a hat on when you go outside in the winter.)
My solution to this dilemma is simple: wear a visor.
In truth, I first started wearing a visor because most hats don’t fit my oversized, dreadlock-bedecked head. I spend all summer fielding wisecracks about how I’m ready for the fairway or tennis courts because of this.
Yet, I do notice a difference compared to hats: I feel much cooler when my face is shaded yet the top of my head is exposed to the open air.
Lengthen your day
It probably goes without saying, but if you’re rushing around and breaking a sweat on a day that is already hot, you’re just going to end up hotter.
Give yourself extra time to get where you’re going and to do what you’re doing; not only will this keep your pulse rate down, it might make you calmer as well, literally helping you keep your cool.
(Luckily, the sun usually rises earlier during summer; this might make it easier to add minutes to your day by getting up sooner. It’s usually cooler in the morning as well.)
No sweat (figuratively speaking)
Companion to the above, the fact remains: when it hot outside, it’s hot. You can try forcing your body not to respond – which will likely make you tense and even hotter under the collar. Or you can just accept the situation as it is. Accept that you’re going to sweat a little, and smell a little, and wilt a little … but so too is everyone else.
Summer is pretty much over now in Vancouver – the mornings are definitely colder and the darkness of night comes much sooner – but it’s always almost summertime somewhere in the world. To those of you for whom that applies, I wish you plenty of cool fun under the hot summer sun.
What other tips do folks have for keeping cool in the heat? What is your best physical feature? Let me know in the comments.