One of my favorite times of the year in Texas are the hot summer evenings. I enjoy going for a walk or jog in the 100+ degree late sunset hours, with the cicadas chirping full bore. I suspect this unnatural appreciation for activities in the evening heat stems back to spending a year of my life in Saudi Arabia.
I spent six months in Riyadh for the first Gulf War, from Christmas 1990 to June 1991. I worked in the world’s most heavily fortified soccer field, supporting mission crews flying RC-135s. I also spent another six months over the following two years on different stints flying aboard the AWACS.
Saudi Arabia is a strange place, and not only from a cultural perspective. As summer rolled around, temperatures would start spiking well north of 100 degrees. The blazing sun pounded down on everything like something out of a Dune novel. You tried to avoid going out during the day unless you had to.
Then evening rolled around and life found a way. The temperature stayed above 100 degrees, but it was a comfortable hot compared to the brutal daylight hours. The Saudis obviously learned this centuries ago. We would drive back from missions in the evening and there would be tents scattered throughout the desert along the roads with men sitting in front of fires, probably telling the tales their fathers used to tell them in similar settings.
These golden evenings were also the hours everyone used to exercise. I would run a few miles or play volleyball well into the night as temperatures slowly tipped south. Breathing in the hot dry air while jogging along in the silent darkness was my favorite way to keep my sanity. I don’t think I’ve ever been in as good of shape in my life as I was during my time in the sandbox.
Which brings us back to Texas. The hot summer nights here bring back that nostalgia for a more simple time 20+ years ago. I actually prefer taking a long walk in the hot summer evenings than I do during the cooler fall and winter. There is something relaxing about the heat. Outside the camaraderie, it is one of the only things I miss from the desert.