What to do in a Charleston SCORCHER

Gah!!! This June! Day upon days of temperatures over 90 with heat indices of 100 to 115! I usually depend on July and August for that level of torture. But it brings to mind a conversation I frequently have with people considering moving here from more Northerly Climes.  Generally, it goes like this:

Nice Northern Client: Hi Kristin – I am coming to visit at the end of July or beginning of August to see if I can stand the heat and humidity. Maybe I’ll play a round of golf.

Me: But why? It will not be that enjoyable. Take the hottest week-long heat wave you have had and multiply it by many more weeks. That’s what its like.

Nice Northern Client: But I need to know if I can get through it or not.

Me: But those of us who live here already can’t stand it. Even if someone has lived here 40 years, they’re still moaning and complaining. We just put up with it because the other 10 months out of the year the weather is pretty awesome.

Nice Northern Client: Ok, but I still want to experience it.

So, to my Nice Northern Clients – this is a guide for you. A guide for how people who live here get through it, and what we do.

#1 LEAVE. There are few people I know who have the means who don’t get out of town for at least a few days heat respite – to North Carolina, to Wyoming, to New York, to wherever might be even just 5 degrees cooler. Frankly, it’s a Charleston tradition. Even 100 years ago, people would leave the swelter of Downtown Charleston for Sullivan’s Island just 9 miles away.  Charleston Magazine published this interesting little tidbit about the August Ladies – a century old term “describing the impoverished grand dames of Charleston, who couldn’t afford to leave town in the heat of August. To preserve their image, they stayed inside all day, as it was social death to be seen on the Downtown streets.” Social death!!!

#2 STAY IN THE A/C. From house to car, to office, to store, to restaurant or the movies, we opt for as little exposure to the heat as possible. You know the invention of air conditioning is responsible for the economic rise of the South don’t you??

#3 STAY IN THE SHADE. If we have to be outdoors, we walk very, very slowly on the shaded side of the street. We sit on our covered piazzas, fans on high, cooled by the icy adult beverage we have in our hand and hold occasionally to our foreheads. That is if we aren’t eaten alive by the no-see-ums. Screens. Lots of screens if possible.

#4 BEACH. The seabreeze always helps make the temperature more tolerable, so we escape to the nearby islands for a few hours, a day or a week. However there are rules accompanying this. Go out before 10AM, or after 5PM only. In between times?? Reserved for lunching and napping if you are able. You MUST have a tent or umbrella with you at all times. Personally, I opt for the tiki style as the sound of the raffia blowing in the breeze makes me happy. Also ice – at least 60 lbs of ice, since even with a good cooler it will melt a rate of one cube per second.


#5 BOAT. But only with a friend who has a boat with an extra large bimini top and the ability to get in and out of the water easily. DO NOT under ANY circumstances accept an invitation to board a boat without a bimini top or some shelter. Otherwise, 4 hours later, beached up on a sandbar in the middle of some unknown creek because your friend didn’t know the depth drops from 5 ft to 6 inches in 3 seconds and the tide is about to hit dead low, you’ll be burnt, grouchy and wishing like hell you could just get back to your A/C.

#6 POOL. Join one, buy one, blow one up. When is someone going to invent a service that delivers 3ft x 3ft blocks of ice to your poolside? Because even the water in the pool can hit 90 degrees. (Note the ongoing theme of ice?)


My niece knows how to beat a Charleston scorcher.

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