Sometimes You Beat the Heat…

…sometimes it beats you.

This is my September submission for the Quilcene Community Center Newsletter. I am posting it here first. Yes, I really want to talk about my eventually radical fat boy/caveman kneeboard and how, lineup-wise, my policy will be, “Okay, then, sit next to me.” Yeah, next time, this will be explained.

Sometimes the heat is and can only be described as ‘excessive’ or ‘oppressive.’ You step out of your house or your car, cooled, somewhat, what we call, ‘conditioned,’ and your body cannot hold back a ‘whew,’ blowing out a breath that is, at whatever body temperature your brain and your clothing try to maintain, still cooler than it is outside.  

“Sum-mer-time… and the livin’ is… easy…” Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heywood, from “Porgy and Bess.” Just to give credit. Don’t listen to the Janis Joplin version on a hot day. Just a warning.

Oh, wait, I’m writing this for September, and I’m writing it six hours or so after the latest heat advisory (or red alert, depending on location and distance from large bodies of water) ended and the more acceptable drizzle started. Drizzle, yea!

I’m pretty sure you weren’t one of those who complained (or, maybe, speculated), when it was cool and rainy into June, and even July, that we would never get a Summer.

No, we haven’t had the severe smokiness or anything the meteorologists would label a ‘heat dome,’ but we have had days, many of them, in a row, where, say, a painter could leave drop cloths out overnight without fear that this act might be construed by whatever entities control the weather, as a challenge.

So, yes, even if it stays kind of cool and rainy until the end of October, Halloween, the unofficial start to the cooling season, we have had a summer.

I did see a lot of photos of sexy women in and around waterfalls, but not wanting to appear, I guess, pervy, I choose to use this one; partially because the dude is in sort of a prayer position, possibly asleep. This choice might make more sense as you read on.

HERE ARE a few things people say about the weather:

“Hot enough fer ya?” Yes. Fifty-five suits me fine, if I’m working outside, sixty-five if I’m, like, hanging out. No, I rarely hang out.

“Great day for painting, huh?” What are you doing?

“It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.” So, when are you going back to Arizona?

“Surfer, huh? Do you wear a wetsuit? Is the water cold?” Yes. Yes. Yes, it’s salty, too. Thought I’d throw that one in. Yes, seventy-five degrees is great… on the beach.

“It always cools down at night.” Thankfully.

“With the days getting shorter, even if it gets hot, it’s not for that long.” This one goes with, “We rarely get more than three days in a row of hot weather.” Response- Thankfully, and Until we do.

“I don’t know how people face it when they wake up and it’s going to be a hundred and eight degrees; and there’s nothing but that kind of heat in the forecast… for weeks on end.” I don’t know, either.

“You know, a lot of times, it’s cooler here on the Olympic Peninsula than anywhere in the continental United States.” It’s cooler in Port Townsend.

“You just have to get acclimated.” I do. I don’t want to.

“It’s okay to sweat.” Yes, in the gym, and with a few exceptions, pretty much not anywhere else. Side note- no one wants to see almost anyone else shirtless. Make your own exceptions.

“When it is really hot it is difficult to sleep.” Churches seem to have the perfect temperature for that.

“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Yeah, well, I researched that, and though the quote is often attributed to Mark Twain, it may have come from Charles Dudley Warner, a neighbor and fellow writer; not that you should care. But I do disagree. We have…    

AIR CONDITIONING- Magically, though the radio and the rear window wiper and numerous other things don’t work, the air conditioner on my 1985 Toyota Camry does, though it seems to work less effectively on longer trips. At some point, there just doesn’t seem to be enough… oxygen. On my work van, no, and the vent and fan are inadequate.

We have one of those window air conditioners in the living room, a different deal in the back bedroom. Somewhat relieved that the (extended) winter heating season is over, I will soon find out what the cost of comparative coolness is.

Though I try to follow the shade as I am painting, I am occasionally required to finish up a job in the sun. I finished up a job recently on the hottest day of the year (to that point), at the hottest part of the day (5:30 mid-summer). After almost stripping off my shirt, I spent the next day, recovering, five feet from the air conditioner, mostly watching a surfing contest in Tahiti on the big screen TV. It was probably hot and humid there. Why would I care? Where I was, it was 69 degrees, somewhere around 50 percent humidity.     

Perfect.

Oh, one last thing: “Do you know how you can tell tourists are from the Northwest, anywhere in the world?” Yes. We’d be the ones in the shade.

SURFERS AND COOLNESS- I’ve spent my life trying to figure this all out. What I have noticed is that ultra-coolness on the beach does not always transfer intact to proficiency in the water. Still, I do try to up my beach game. See you out on Surf Route 101.

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