Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dealing With 100 Degree Weather

These last few days the high temperatures have been over 100 degrees and the lows in the mid 60s. 65 degrees is quite pleasant, and a few times I’ve actually been awake at 4 a.m. to enjoy it. We’ve been bracing for this hot weather for months, unsure of how we would handle it. 100 degrees seems to be the demarcation line between “life is good here because the weather is so beautiful”, and “you just have to learn to tolerate it”. I’m not sure I can tell the difference between 98 and 102 degrees. They’re both damned hot.
We didn’t hit 100 degrees this year until May 28th and then not again until June 5th. Evidently that’s later than usual. People here in Green Valley like to say that we have cooler temperatures than in Tucson. So when Tucson is 104, we are sometimes 101, “Whoopee!” I looked up some other weather forecasts to help me feel better. For example, Cairo was 105, New Delhi was 111 and, get this one, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was 114 with the low of only 91 degrees. That one made me feel a little better.
The weather that most excites me right now is in Mexico. Throughout Mexico the highs are in the low 70’s with cloudy conditions and a chance of rain. This means for us the monsoon season is approaching. It officially started on June 15th , but we haven’t seen one drop yet. But soon violent storms will come to us from the south. Katie and I experienced one of these summer storms last July when we were visiting from the Northwest. We got caught in a deluge driving from Sierra Vista to Tucson. It rained so hard all the cars had to pull over and wait it out. The lightning crashed all around us, hitting the ground close by. It was exhilarating and frightening at the same time. Coming from the Midwest, violent storms are familiar to me. The difference here in the desert is that roaring flash floods are everywhere soon after the skies open. The ground is too hard and dry to soak up any water and so it starts flowing right away. Every year people get hurt and some die, carried away by the raging water in a road dip, creek, river or arroyo.
But the monsoon rains aren’t here yet and so we continue to live mostly in air conditioning. The heat actually feels good when you first go outside after being inside for a while. Katie says this phenomenon lasts about 30 seconds, I think it’s a little longer, but once you get hot, it’s hard to feel comfortable again without going back into the air conditioning. A friend of ours was visiting last spring and asked one of our neighbors how it felt living in the summer heat. This neighbor is generally a very gracious man, but on this particular day he was quite abrupt and told her, “turn your oven on to over 100 degrees and stick your head in there for a while.” She got the idea. I don’t think she actually tried it though.
Green Valley is full of wild animals--lots of birds, lizards, snakes, coyotes, bobcats, and javelinas. I’ve been watching what the animals do in the heat. Actually they’re hard to find in the heat of the day, with the exception of the small birds that don’t seem to be affected much by the heat, we can hear them chattering in the trees and bushes. Yesterday I noticed several rabbits lying under a bush. They had all dug small trenches in the dirt in order to lie in them. The rabbits are always on the alert around here because they are lunch for so many of the other animals. So here was a little squad of rabbits in their shallow foxholes with only their eyes and ears sticking up above ground. It must be too hot for the lizards and snakes, they’ve disappeared in this 100+ weather.
Our cat, Felis, spends much of the day sleeping on his back with his stomach up in the air, a position that we’ve discovered works well for people too. If we do have to go out in mid-day to run errands, when we return we unfailingly crank up the air conditioning, grab a book, and then imitate our cat for a few hours.

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