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Opinion

Free air conditioning


  • By Clay Neely
  • |
  • Nov. 16, 2021 - 3:30 PM

Free air conditioning

Clay Neely is co-publisher and managing editor of The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at clay@newnan.com

Transitional months are the best months.

I know the beauty of these times is impermanent and appreciate each wonderful day before those two longer seasons begin.

When it’s cold, it’ll be cold for a few months, and that’s about it. It’s your brief window to dig out some cooler weather clothes you might otherwise have forgotten about.

But when it gets hot, it’s going to stay that way for a long, long time. There are no “cold snaps” in summer.

In reality, all four seasons are transitional. One leads to the other and so on. Just like life, it’s moving, even if we don’t see it.

For some reason, my best and favorite memories revolve around this time of the year.

The months of October and November are a magical season where I feel truly alive and grateful for every breath of fresh air. The senses jog the memory bank, like pulling out an old shoebox filled with keepsakes.

It’s “Octember” — that wonderful stretch of time before the holidays when your time will assuredly be eaten up by commitments.

It’s also the time of free air conditioning and signals the beginning of “vest weather.” If I’m wearing a vest, you know I’m happy.

June, July, August, September — you could drop me in the middle of any of those months, and I probably couldn’t tell the difference.

But, there’s only one Octember.

I recently flew out to Houston to visit our Aggie cousins at College Station where we had a party with 109,835 of our closest friends for the Texas A&M game.

You see, the Lone Star State gets their free air conditioning in November. Feeling grateful for my Texas family and good fortune, I soaked it up in every sense.

My grandfather was an Aggie and took me to my first game against Texas, among a number of other fantastic memories. And while he's been gone now for twelve years, I view these games as a chance for me to feel close to him and honor his memory.

Lord knows I’m terrible at math and would never have made it at A&M, so it’s a fun compromise.

Staring up at the stars on a November night in Texas is a time-honored tradition dating back to my Thanksgivings spent at Big Bend National Park, where the sky looks like glitter spilled by God.

I returned home Sunday evening feeling smart, satisfied and ready to get the week started right.

Monday morning, sipping my coffee on the couch, I sneezed.

And that was it.

Suddenly, I was enveloped by a wall of pain. I went down like Nancy Kerrigan, screaming, “Why…why…” and Googled “paralyzed by sneezing.”

Turns out, just like everything else on the Internet, it’s a real thing. Now, all I could do was pray for an open chiropractor appointment.

God is good. Two hours later, I was never so relieved and angry to be in the same place.

My doc asked how “taking it easy” had been going, assuming I'd spent the weekend mountain biking as usual.

I told him I never thought of sneezing as a high-impact activity, but he corrected me with some alarming facts about the power I harness.

Apparently, your abdominal muscles, chest muscles, diaphragm, the muscles that control your vocal cords, muscles in the back of your throat, and eyelid muscles all work together to create a successful sneeze.

Later, I caught up with my old friend who now lives in Ohio. He’s a former marathon runner and all-around outdoor junkie. He camps in the snow, on purpose.

He told me to quit feeling so sorry for myself. He’s been hobbled since his Isle Royale hike in September and unable to go running.

“This is normal,” he said. “It’s not just you.”

That’s something every only child needs to hear every now and then.

So instead of taking it personally, I’ve learned that these little injuries are God’s way of letting us know the meter is running.

And that’s just fine. There’s still plenty of Octember left.


Clay Neely is co-publisher and managing editor of The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at clay@newnan.com