Some extreme heat lessons

Dear President Biden,

I hope today is the last day I feel compelled to give you a read out on the previous day’s high temperature – we’ll see. Today’s forecast is for 91 and this morning’s cool-feeling, breezy-ish 74 nearly brought both Laura and I to tears. After finally topping out at 108 yesterday, I think it’s fair to say that this morning we’re toggling between feeling like soggy wet rags and those same soggy wet rags after they’ve dried out in contorted shapes and are in the ultra-stiff, don’t-want-to-think-too-hard-about-it, phase that comes just before the washing machine. As you might have gathered, we have a lot of those rags around the house left over from our attempts to keep ourselves and wire haired Dachshund, Buddy, “cool,” so it’s definitely a laundry day around here today.

It doesn’t feel like much, but here’s what I’ve learned (so far) about existing in extreme heat without AC:

  1. It helps to say out loud that one will not take one’s heat-driven irritability out on those in one’s proximity
  2. It’s reasonable to lower expectations about what can be accomplished (or even attempted) in the midst of 100+ degree weather
  3. Buddy is an enthusiastic ice cube chewer and there’s no percentage in worrying about the puddles of melt on the wood floor – just sop them up with one of those handy rags
  4. Buddy tolerates both cool spray-downs in the kitchen sink and having a cold, wet towel draped over him when he’s lying down if the thermometer is hovering in the 100’s
  5. The cold, wet towel deal is an awesome sleep aid for humans trying to sleep when the inside-the-house temperature is stubbornly at 95
  6. There’s absolutely no point thinking about cooking anything and fortunately, three item salads can taste like a most amazing treat (in our case arugula, cucumber, and strawberries)
  7. In order to get everyone’s core temperature back into a semi-manageable range, it’s ok to take drives to a not-so-close dog walk destination, but it’s not a good idea to go somewhere where there are brick buildings radiating heat (like the area at Magnuson Park we first tried yesterday – major mistake)
  8. Put chocolate in the refrigerator; it’s better to sacrifice some flavor for the greater good of maintaining structural integrity
  9. Remember that no one cares if you cycle repeatedly between the three sleeveless summer dresses you own and that on Zoom, no one can tell if you’re wearing a bra
  10. Doing Zoom meetings in the dim isn’t terrible – no one cares if they can’t see all the sweat that’s pouring off of you
  11. Commiserating with others contending with the same miserable heat situation is completely acceptable and should not be construed as negativity or whining
  12. It’s reasonable to acknowledge the existential threat that such “heat events” represent and it’s beyond ok to fuss about the GOP being obstructionists when it comes to addressing climate change

Those are the hard won “ah ha!” gems so far from this corner of Seattle as our extreme heat finally starts to dissipate. I’m hoping there won’t be occasion to add to them ever again, but sadly, I bet there will be. Also, in addition to #3 and #4 maybe applying only to wire haired Dachshunds named Buddy, these lessons obviously only apply if one is housed and reasonably healthy. If one is unhoused and/or dealing with tough medical situations (and/or small children….) then the degree of creativity and patience needed to get through such ordeals is beyond what I can even imagine possessing.

Finally, I just want to say that it’s so very nice to see the birds around here acting more normal. It was awful yesterday evening seeing the Juncos and the crows panting – they had their little beaks open and their chests were heaving. Not good. Not good at all.

May we all be safe from humans.
May we be willing to not kid ourselves that because things are better, we’re in the clear.
May we be strong advocates for a truly healthy, sustainable reset.
May we accept that there’s no time to waste.

Tracy Simpson

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