Top 10 ways to beat the heat include drawing a cold bath and going to a movie

July was the warmest on record in Baltimore. The average temperature at BWI was 81.7 degrees; the only time I felt it that cool was very early some mornings. We had a streak of 15 consecutive days of 90-plus weather, and four days over 100 degrees. The Maryland Science Center recorded 108 degrees on July 22. That is the highest ever recorded downtown.

If August turns out the same, I will follow our top 10 ways to cope with the heat:

1) Pull down the shades. Our south and west windows had the blinds down most of every day for weeks. We felt like moles, but it helped block out the baking sun. One afternoon I left my wedding ring on a window sill behind the blind. When I put it on a few hours later, the ring almost burned my finger.

2) Eat cold food. My niece and I encountered 97-degree temperatures in Paris this June. One sizzling evening we stopped at a bakery and bought slices of quiche from the refrigerated case. We hurried them back to our air-conditioned hotel and ate them unheated. Later I had ice cream to further cool my "core." In Baltimore, My husband and I have enjoyed ice cream all summer at Uncle Wiggly's in Mt. Washington Mill and at Poulet at Green Spring Station.

I've had plenty of gazpacho, at least every three nights, and daily doses of cold grapes, cold blueberries, ice water and more ice water. For breakfast, I've indulged in well-refrigerated coffee yogurt that improves my mood. For lunch, it's been blueberry Greek yogurt plus a few extra chilled blueberries.

3) Find a counter-irritant. My husband has stuck to his hot chamomile tea routine, three cups a day with lemon, and an occasional sprig of refreshing mint from the garden. He finds the tea soothing in the heat, and he doesn't mind hot soup either.

4) Swim. The water in the deep end at Meadowbrook, where the NBAC swimmers practice, and in the indoor pool has stayed relatively cool. Rivers have too, although I haven't bothered to find one

5) Wear shorts. My middle-aged legs don't look great in shorts, but I wear them around the house. My husband, with slender legs, can wear them in public.

6) Use cold bath water. From time to time I've stuck my feet under the bathtub faucet. That too cools down the "core." When bathing, I've been careful not to let the water become too warm. No further warm-up is needed.

7) Water the garden early, before 8 a.m. It's better for the plants. Psychologically, it seems cooling to see water shoot from a hose, then bead on the greenery.

8) Do not use a hair dryer. The slicked-back look has just had to do for me. Staying cool-headed at 100 degrees is hard enough.

9) Pick up. A mess makes me feel agitated, as if I have a prickly heat rash. Trash makes my husband burn up. He regularly gathers trash on Cold Spring Lane and cuts out dead tree limbs. Dry, brittle branches do not look cool.

10) Go out to dinner and to the movies. Most theaters are plenty cool — not all, but most. We ended up at one that was "close," and we won't go back there this summer. We encountered a similar restaurant. They offered everyone free, iced drinks. Having fun makes the heat less obvious.

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