It's impossible in this Amazon rainforest heat to venture outside and not feel like a soggy, oversteamed vegetable in less than a minute.

But take it from someone who lived a few years in a place where the summer temps hover in the low 70s and there's always a cool breeze blowing in off the water: It sounds nice in theory, but the season never feels like it's officially arrived. At least, that was my impression as a Midwesterner to whom withering weather like Minnesota is experiencing now is a rite of the season.

I lived in Seattle in the early 1990s and thought I'd like the milder summers. Much to my surprise, I missed that stretch of heat and humidity that always arrived back home in July or August.

Highs in the low 70s means it never gets warm enough to go to the pool or have the kids run through the sprinkler and have the water feel really good -- like it's refreshed your body and soul. Instead, summer fun becomes a short test of endurance before surrendering to the warmth of a beach towel.

Cooler summer temps also mean there's never that hot-weather-enforced slowdown that Midwesterners savor at a subliminal level -- those nights when it's too hot to do anything but sit on the deck, sip lemonade and enjoy a cool dinner of tuna macaroni salad (since it's too warm even with air conditioning to fire up the stove).

So even as the sweat trickles down the middle of my back on my short walk into work, I'm embracing the mugginess. This is full-strength summer, and without it, no matter how much we complain about the heat, we'd feel robbed of an essential element of a season that comes late and leaves early in Minnesota.

The weather pendulum will too soon start swinging toward the frigid side. These hot days are when we soak up enough warmth and sun to endure the other extreme that is surely coming.