According to the old rhyme, it is April that is supposed to bring the rains, while May should grace us with the beautiful flowers and new growth of Mother Nature. For some reason, Mother must have fallen asleep somewhere between the end of April and the first of May, and is still sleeping, because we have had more than our share of rain lately. According to the news, we are still looking at an average of another 45% every day for the rest of the week. We have had tornado warnings, and one hit the ground northwest of us last Monday. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but it did leave some damage in its wake.

With all this rain comes the humidity, as thick as sludge. The temps may be in the mid to upper 80’s, but the humidity makes it miserable and seem hotter than it is. I got a good dose of what the rest of the summer is going to be like on Tuesday.

I got off early and headed out to do banking for both of my bosses and us and any other ‘in town’ errands before going home. My first stop was a bank, and then I headed into Barnes and Noble to check for a specific book. From there I went to our bank. When I got back in my car and turned the key, nothing happened. I mean, literally. Not a click. Not a ding. Not a catch. I called Randy to find out what I needed to do, and he told me just to wait while he called Greg (one of our ‘sons’). Although Greg is now a Shreveport Police Officer, he was also a mechanic.

While waiting for him to get there, I sat in the car and began to sweat. I opened the door to allow for some breeze, but as there wasn’t much of one, there wasn’t much relief. Fortunately, Greg discovered that I only had a loose connection on my battery, and he fixed it in a matter of minutes. But as I watched him, I saw sweat forming on his forehead and begin to drip. I handed him a towel and again thought of just how brutal our summers could be.

That got me to thinking. I drive an old car, and there is certainly going to be times when I am stuck on the side of the road. What can I do to lessen that time, or to keep from dehydrating in the wicked summer heat of the South? Here are a few tips that may help you out:

1) Keep a few supplies in the back of your car. I have a milk-type crate that holds a gallon of antifreeze; an old antifreeze container filled with water; two quarts of oil; a small tool chest; a roll of paper towels; an old bath towel and old hand towel; a package of handi-wipes and a blanket (for the winter months). A spare fan belt and can of Fix-A-Flat wouldn’t hurt, either. When I leave home, I usually carry a small ice chest filled with water, and in the summer it holds an orange, a small bag of trail mix and/or a protein bar. Considering that at least two thirds of my drive home is in isolated areas, it makes sense to take something healthy to snack on – getting rescued may mean an hour or better wait.

2) Know how to use all that’s in your crate. Do you know how to check your oil and add some if it’s low? If you don’t, it’s time to learn. The antifreeze is for the radiator, to keep the engine at a regulated temperature. Your radiator also needs water in it to keep the engine cool. In our summer heat, it’s nothing for your engine to get too hot, and if that happens, you could destroy your engine altogether. The most important thing to remember is never, ever, ever, open the radiator cap while the engine is still hot. Wait at least twenty minutes before gently loosening the cap. Use that hand towel (folded) to open it. Before you completely loosen it, make sure the water isn’t trying to spew out. If it is, back away quickly and wait a little longer. The water in a hot radiator is not only boiling hot, but also contains the chemicals from antifreeze. It can cause severe burns, and if it gets in your eyes, it can blind you. Always approach a radiator with caution.

In your tool chest, keep a selection of screwdrivers, pliers, and wrenches – preferably rubber-handled. A Leatherman-type tool is also very handy. In my case, Greg had to loosen the battery cables and clean off the metal round connector thingy with a pocket knife in order to get a good connection. (Hey! I said you needed to know how to do it – knowing what it’s actually called isn’t really necessary.) Had I known what to check for, this Farm Wife could have done it and no one would ever have been the wiser. Although my battery is one of the ‘maintenance free’ types, some of the old ones have water vessels in them. If your battery quits on you, first check the connections. Next, see if you have several round pieces across the front with an indentation in them. If you do, your battery may be out of water. That’s where your distilled water comes in. Loosen those caps with a screwdriver and fill the vessels with water. Replace and tighten the caps, and see if that doesn’t fix what is ailing your car.

The rest of the items should be self-explanatory.  Use the bath towel to lay on the car where you’ll be working, to keep your clothes from getting dirty. The paper towels are to wipe off the dipstick and area where you’ll be working, as well as to wipe the sweat out of your eyes. The handi-wipes are there to wash off your hands – remember, a car engine if full of oil and dirt, and you don’t want that on your steering wheel or upholstery.

Just a little precaution goes a long way. If you think it’s hot outside now, just wait until August. We often refer to the feeling as ‘being in an oven’, and with the humidity, it’s even worse. Take at least a tiny bit of sting out of the heat of summer by being as prepared as possible.

What do you carry in your car? Do you know how to do simple maintenance, or fix a flat tire? If you don’t it may be time to find a knowledgeable person that can teach you. The Country Boy has already informed me that I will be in school this week. Ah, what fun. I’d rather be hoeing my garden. Gee thanks, Mother Nature. You have eliminated that excuse for me with all this blasted rain!