It’s hot.

OK, maybe I didn’t dig deep for an original topic this week, but it’s hard to be creative when each day on my way to work at 6 a.m., temperatures register more than 80 degrees. By the time I go to lunch, the sticky, thick, humid 80 degrees from the morning, feels great.

For the most of the week, my best defense against the heat focused primarily on staying indoors. By the middle of the week, the crew at the Levine household started to get antsy.

Like most children, my daughter, accustomed to going outside almost every day, began to rebel against the imprisonment (I’m a little scared of what will happen during winter). Entertainment options dwindled, so my wife and I gave in to the demands Wednesday, ushering in a new fear — the backyard.

I don’t proclaim to be an expert on landscaping. In all actuality, my outdoor skills are probably far less advanced than a beginning Cub Scout. But when I ventured outside Wednesday, I was embarrassed.

With the lack of rain, my yard’s brownish tint has stopped me from mowing for more than week. And it was hot during the last mowing episode, so I probably skimped on extra caretaking procedures around the lawn (don’t tell my wife that information).

Even though heat indexes soared off the chart, I put on athletic shorts and my work “boots” (my K Swiss shoes from high school that have more holes than treads), and with the help of some encouraging (something like that) words from my wife, I tackled the yard Wednesday.

To my wife’s defense, she helped for awhile, until it was time to put our daughter to bed. We canvased the yard, pulling weeds and making sure to pick excess sticks off the ground, and then stuffed them away into a yard waste bag. Then, I ventured to the other side of the fence, where my main adversary rested.

Every year, my wife tells me to make sure I take care of the weeds growing on the other side of the fence, since it’s technically still our property. And every year, that information goes in one ear and out the other, and I find myself in the same predicament of having to chop through endless weeds (I’m a slow learner).

So, I tried taking out most of the debris with our large garden scissors, but it just wasn’t working. When I looked down at the scissors, I noticed something was a little off — one of the handles was completely bent, making it almost impossible to make any headway.

Instead of going back to the garage and finding something better, I threw down the scissors and pulled all the weeds by hand. I can safely say that almost anything that I have done in the past registered as more fun than that activity. By the time I finished, my dark shirt was a different color and I was ready to call it quits.

Unfortunately, more remained.

The summer months had opened the door for a few small trees to snake up against our fence, and it bothered me at that moment. I grabbed the scissors off the ground and began chopping (sawing) away at the tree’s body.

After removing one, I realized that my trick of using the scissors required much more work on my part, so I decided to enter the garage, where I located a handsaw (which after more than an hour of sawing, I used the saw to cut down an actual tree in the past. And if you saw my handsaw, you would consider that quite a feat).

I went to work on the small trees, and it didn’t take long before my fence was free of obstructions. Before I could call it quits, I grabbed some rope and regular kitchen scissors so I could bundle them to be taken away.

That was the first time bundling by myself, and I will remember that chore for awhile, since my forearms still bear countless scratches and red marks from sharp limbs.

When I went back inside into the air conditioning, I relaxed while chugging glasses of water. Hopefully, by this time next year, I won’t put off my yard work until the hottest week of the year.

High school sports success

Although not a spectacular regular season, the area’s high school baseball and softball postseason in the area has been anything but ordinary.

On the softball side, Preston did enjoy a great regular season and turned that into a stellar postseason run, with them fighting for third place today in Fort Dodge.

The Trojans are also putting together a run to the state tournament in baseball. Audiences that have attended Preston games have probably developed heart issues while watching, because of the late-game heroics that are beginning to become commonplace.

Rallies, walk-off homers and clutch hitting propelled Preston to the state tournament, and we can only hope for more excitement in Des Moines.

Also, Clinton closed out its baseball season with a nice run in the playoffs. Granted, they received an unlikely surprise of playing Bettendorf in the seminals, but the River Kings did what they needed to make it one game away from state.

Unfortunately, Davenport Central possessed too much offense, but overall, the team should be pleased with how the year ended.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at

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