Molly Fisk: Heat Wave

3770942054_4d3e2b47a3_zPhoto by Flickr user Dennis Jernberg (Creative Commons License)

It’s July all of a sudden — how did that happen?! It seems like only two weeks ago we were complaining about excessive heat in March. It was in the low 90s then — we had no idea. Today the high is 107. It’s so hot you could fry a free-range, grass-fed, local chicken’s egg on the sidewalk. It’s so hot road crews are working at night. Pine trees are audibly panting. The local lake is bathtub temp, even at six in the morning. Pretty soon everyones’ car windows are going to melt and glass will run through the gutters. And this isn’t just the Sierra, it’s all over the west. It was so hot yesterday in Albuquerque that planes couldn’t lift off the runways.

Someone said: “This isn’t our weather, it’s India’s weather.” Someone else said: “not good weather for white people.” It was 96 in Alaska this week and there were wildfires in Quebec. Even if you don’t believe in global warming, you can’t deny there’s a whole lot of contiguous local warming going on. . .

Over here, five out of five cats don’t stir when I walk past. Our choreographed heat-wave routine goes like this: Around 7:30 a.m. I close up the house to hold cooler night air inside. I should draw the curtains, but can’t stand not being able to see out the windows. You might was well toss me into San Quentin. Sun beats down on the roof but indoors it’s cool until lunch-time. Then the cats rise from favorite spots on sofas and beds to flatten themselves on the cool kitchen floor tile. It looks like I’m holding a clearance sale on tiny grey and black throw rugs. This is the signal for me to turn on our new window air conditioner and the overhead fan. About half an hour later, the rug sale is over and everyone reconvenes on comfortable furniture for the rest of the afternoon.

Before the A/C unit, I usually opened the house at 5:30, when outdoor air temps had cooled to be equal to indoor temps and there was often a breeze. Now with A/C, I can keep the house closed longer if I need to, and yesterday the air temperature didn’t cool off much at all. I opened the house around 7:00 and then watched sweat from my brow hit the sink as I did the dishes.

The cats don’t swim, but every day I drive to a lake near our town and paddle around for an hour. In the early morning, this serves as exercise. At mid-afternoon, it’s a core-body cooling technique better than anything else I know. Just 10 or 12 strokes in, the grudges, resentments, and homicidal ideation I’ve built up during the day flow out of my brain. I roll over to attempt the back stroke and look for ospreys against a bright blue summer sky.

Even though I’m coping okay, I hope this will be over soon. The only good part of a heat wave is waving the darn thing goodbye . . .


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  • Molly Fisk July 2, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    What cats do in the house at night is read all our e-mails and work on their memoirs… xo

  • Shirley July 2, 2016 at 11:21 am

    We’re not having a heat wave just now here in East TN. But being aware and keeping the cool inside the house as long as possible helps with the electric bill. I do the same thing as you in the mornings and then close up by afternoon. We don’t get a cool down till sometime in the night.

    Wish I had a nice cool creek to wade in during the hottest part of the day! My cat, however, is happy to lie under the AC till night when he comes alive to do whatever cats do in the house at night.