The Livin’ Ain’t Easy

All right. We surrender. It’s summertime, and the livin’ ain’t easy. As much of North Texas sweats through a string of record-setting heat waves, we are beginning to refashion our lives simply to survive the ultramarathon of misery that now defines our white-hot summer. We already limit our weekend activities to the early morning hours, when walking the dogs is most tolerable. We keep our curtains closed and our shades drawn to optimize our air-conditioner’s efficiency. We constantly step around oscillating fans that improve air-flow. We get mired in traffic as parched shifting soils buckle roads and break water mains. But what makes this summer especially unbearable is that there seems to be no escape. Every part of the country is broiling.

And it’s not just the heat. Wildfires consume acres of drought-stricken grassland throughout our region, endangering entire neighborhoods, and the resurgent threat of Covid-19 has made going to the grocery story or a restaurant an increasingly risky proposition.

Unfortunately, this is our new normal.

Equally unfortunate, it won’t be the norm for long.

Climate scientists are saying that 10 years from now, a scorching summer like this one will be considered mild. We know that heat waves have grown hotter, longer, and more frequent over the past few decades. The “heat wave season” (yes, there is such a thing) has more than tripled during that same period.

So what can we do to beat the heat? Not much.

But we can always grill great meals (marinated flank steak on Friday and a bone-in pork chop on Saturday), watch entertaining programs (“Escape to the Chateau” and the Grand Ole Opry’s tribute to Barbara Mandrell), and engage in our regular routines (Note to self: CeCe Winans NEVER disappoints).

On Saturday, we watched the television premiere of “Born in Bristol: The Untold Story of the Birth of Country Music,” a 2017 docudrama that relived the 12 days in 1927 when music pioneer Ralph Peer gathered “hillbilly” musicians at a warehouse in Bristol, Tennessee, for what came to be known as the “Big Bang” of country music, recording for the first time such artists as the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. Peer created the royalty system that largely is still in place today and brought the world some of its most influential artists.

The program was somewhat interesting (the last five minutes were the best) but ultimately uninspiring. It was “thin soup,” as Jon likes to say. Not very nourishing, but at least you won’t starve.

We thought Ken Burns gave the Bristol Sessions a more compelling treatment in his 2019 documentary, “Country Music.” Admittedly, Ken Burns had 16 hours to convey the entire sweep of Country music, including its “Big Bang,” but he is also a far more experienced documentarian than Chusy Haney-Jardine, the Venezuelan-born writer and director of “Born in Bristol.”

Another weekend revelation was Zana’s Long Drink, a Lillet cocktail made with apple cider and topped with a lemon wedge. We’ve added the light, sparkling refresher to our coctailarium, a perfect accompaniment to these triple-digit days.