Beating the Heat…

Des Moines is a great place to be in the summer months, there is something going on every weekend, we have farmer’s markets on almost every night of the week, including a mega-massive downtown market every Saturday morning. We have an amusement park, great arts festivals, one of the (if not, THE) top-rated state fairs (that even inspired a musical), a great zoo, and beautiful botanical center…the list goes on and on. The only trouble is–the heat. Well, the humidity, really. The percentage of humidity in our air this time of year is typically in the high 80% and 90%’s. Which means when the actual temperature might be only 91 degrees, you often have a heat index of 96 to 98 degrees (what the temp actually feels like). It also means that every time you move faster than a turtle, you immediately start to ooze and exude moisture from every pore. Not pretty. God bless the person(s) who invented air conditioning.

There are somethings I refuse to pass up, though, even if it does mean sweating it out among the masses of cranky hot citizens. (Yes, we get cranky. Very cranky when it’s that humid.) One of them is the art festivals…

Last weekend we went to Art-A-Fair at Hoyt Sherman Place. It’s a small arts festival held on the front lawn of a 1877 mansion that now serves as home to the Des Moines Woman’s Club and many shows and performances in its 1923 theater. There is just something about strolling from tent to tent admiring the creativity and creations of other craftspeople and artists that just makes me giddy. I love it. I never tire of it. I would attend one of these every weekend if I could.


It was miserably sweltering in the sun, but thankfully, there was a lot of shade. There was also an awesome jazz trio playing music that just added to the ambiance of the day.


One of my favorite finds were these limestone wall sculptures of veggies and critters with human characteristics and expressions:

I don’t know how well you can see the picture, but those peas, asparagus and carrots are way too cool not to be found hanging in my kitchen or dining room one day. The little fish at the top is probably the cutest thing ever. I should have taken more than just this one photo. They are in the process of setting up a website, I’ll post about it again once I know the site is live.

The Hoyt Sherman Place is a site to see in itself. Hoyt Sherman was a relative (cousin, I believe) of the General Sherman that marched across the South and burned Atlanta (a little over a decade before this was built). Here is the 1877 cornerstone:


The front of the mansion:


The theater that was added in 1923:

with some amazing architectural details on the interior (this is the ceiling in the audtorium):

And a detail of one of the windows:

I only took one item home with me from the festival. This awesome little bag is made of upholstery weight fabric with a beautiful vintage brooch embellishing it. These bags are made by two sisters of retirement age who are just having a ball sewing together and starting up their own business.


Isn’t that brooch awesome?!? Yesterday, one of my favorite bands, Hello Dave (from Chicago) came and performed a free concert outside of one of our malls. This mall is only four years old this summer, they built a terraced amphitheater for these summer concerts, but without the forthought of providing shade for the poor performers on 101 degree days with heat indeces of 106 degrees. I seriously felt for these guys.

They are a pretty energetic quintet, though, and the show didn’t suffer as a result of their suffering. Here they are doing the fight song for their bass player, whose bass literally overheated about 2/3 of the way into the show. You might notice the people in lawn chairs across the lake there. Yeah, they’d be the smart ones.

If you’re wondering what got in my way at the top of this photo, that would be the broken umbrella that I grabbed as I got out of the car to protect my friend and I from the sun. You see, the developers also didn’t take into account the fact that these evening concerts are taking place in an amphitheater that has this great terraced arena that faces due West. That’s right, listening to the music as the sun goes down, down, down directly into your EYES! It’s gets a little hard to see the performers after a while, but my trusty broken umbrella that probably should have seen the inside of a trash can a year ago, performed like a champ. It’s not pretty, there is a metal spoke that pokes through the top, another metal spoke that no longer has an fabric covering it…it wouldn’t keep you dry in a downpour, but it will keep you cool in the sun. Oh, brelly, how can I ever throw you away now?

One thing that is enjoying this humidity? The green stuff! My flowers are taking over my porch. This is a huge pot that houses these plants, and you can’t even see it anymore. I don’t water as often as I should. But no matter, the moisture in the air is taking care of them just fine…

I hope you are beating the heat, wherever you live, and taking advantage of all the great summer events and activities your town has to offer. Just remember the sunscreen. (It’s 70 SPF for me).

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