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Drink lots of water to replace sweat

How many gallons of water can you drink on a hot July day inMississippi?

Plenty.

How many pounds can you lose while working and sweating in thegreat outdoors?

Quite a few, provided you don’t let your appetite for ice creamand other sugary items replenish the fat.

So it goes on a July vacation, also known as a working vacation.My honey-do list was a monumental challenge. Our intentions weresincere but it seems like I barely scratched the surface.

After five days of labor in the great outdoors, my farmer’s tanwas evident. The arms, neck, ears and cheeks revealed redness.

Wisdom kept my head from becoming a bright, cherry color. Iusually wore a cap and a do-rag to soak up some of the sweat. It’samazing how much cooler you feel if you soak that rag with waterbefore plunging outside to build a fence, remodel a corral, work inthe garden or clear jungle-infested property.

Unfortunately, growing older does have some negatives. In myyounger days, I would awake the next morning with sore muscles andjoints after some major outdoor labor. Now, it’s sore back and soreknees the same day.

Pass the Advil, please.

All of this outdoor activity makes me appreciate my dear wife,Laurie, a lot more. She believes in an immaculate lawn, so shereligiously keeps it trimmed at the right height. Pine cones arescarce when she is riding our John Deere mower with the mulchingblades.

Laurie loves her flowers and it’s evident as I gaze across ourdeck and enjoy the beautiful backyard scenery. It resembles a colorphotograph from SOUTHERN LIVING.

She also dotes on her plush flower beds which present a rainbowof colors and greenery. A weed is considered an arch enemy, analien invader planning to destroy paradise.

Her personal Garden of Eden reminds me of those popularscriptures from the Bible’s Book of Genesis. All she needs is anAdam to do the weed-pulling and gardening.

By contrast, my primary interest outdoors is all types ofanimals from wild to domesticated. We both love the song birds andfurnish them with plenty of seed and suet. It is soothing to watchthe cardinals and orchard orioles introduce their offspring to thefood bonus provided by those giant humans who watch from behindglass windows in air-conditioned comfort.

Speaking of animals, our two dogs and two horses are fed andwatered before departing for work each morning. During the summer,early morning is the most pleasant time of the day to beoutside.

The dogs, a 7-year-old yellow lab named Benton; and ahyperactive, 8-month-old boxer named Dixie; are a sharp contrast inpersonalities. Benton is laid back and beginning to show his age.Dixie leaps and dances tirelessly like an antelope, playing ahigh-energy form of touch and run with Benton.

You have to admire Benton’s patience. Dixie perfects herboxer-like jabs on Benton’s back and neck while he growls withannoyance. Occasionally, Benton will bark and snap at the peskyjuvenile delinquent but down deep, I think he enjoys theattention.

Once in a while, he’ll engage in a game of tag, baring his teethin mock anger and chasing her across the lawn. If Dixie couldlaugh, her cackle would be heard all over the neighborhood.

Horses, like all animals, have a difficult time dealing with thesummertime heat and insects. Rebel, my granddaughter Kallie Rose’s17-year-old gelding; has a new pasture friend in Glory-B, a12-year-old pregnant mare from Gulfport.

Together, they consume a few hundred gallons of water during aheat-filled week. Women would agree that it is no fun beingpregnant in June, July and August, unless you live in a coolerclimate.

Glory-B’s belly continues to grow rounder and wider. Her foal isdue in mid-September. Excitement is growing in our family as herdelivery date approaches. The stable area was refined for a nurseryduring our last week of vacation.

It’s hard to believe that school starts next week. Preseasonfootball practice started yesterday for the private schools and itbegins Monday for the public schools.

Slowpitch softball is upon us. Several area schools areparticipating in Classic tournaments this weekend before launchingtheir 2007 campaigns next week.

Remember when school didn’t start until the Tuesday after LaborDay?

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mailsports@dailyleader.com