Thursday, June 9, 2011

Heat Wave (Richmond, VA)

My favorite seasons are Spring and Fall, those in-between times when days are cool and comfortable and nights, cooler and comfortabler still. I crave the crescendo of colorful flowers and turning leaves, bask in the breezes, revel in the roaring rainfalls.

Winters bring snow, beautiful as it cascades down and blankets the barren landscape. Beautiful for the first 20 minutes -- before it sullies to an incredibly unattractive shade of gray-brown-black, the result of foot and vehicular traffic, of chimney emanations and churned-up soil and clay. Beautiful before it causes us to have to excavate our cars from the snowbanks that bury them and to dig them out yet again, each time the snowplow passes. Then the snow turns to ice, and the real lack of fun begins. Walking turns treacherous. In their inexplicable quest to deplete grocery shelves of milk and eggs, lunatic drivers careen into median strips and other vehicles. Here in Richmond, when snow is in the air or even predicted on the airwaves, we shutter schools, businesses, and life for a full week. Due to the phenomenon of global or national or regional or local warming, we are back to what passes for normal within a few days or 30 minutes. Except for the grim, sooty snow mountains, which stick around for months or centuries, like icebergs towering over nearly every parking lot. (Suggestion: They could be converted into monuments to Confederate heroes!!!)

On the positive side, one CAN seek refuge from the winter cold. Most buildings are sufficiently heated, sometimes (as in my workplace) approximating sauna temperatures. Wearing layers of clothing is advisable. I always have my heavy faux-fur coat, a sweater, a long-sleeved shirt, a tee, stockings, knee-high socks, boots, and "inside" shoes either on or nearby. Sometimes, as in my home (which Husband insists on maintaining at what he considers a healthful temperature -- which translates to normal people as Arctic, unbearable, and more frigid than it is outside), I pull on long underwear (in addition to my normally short underwear), furry slippers, and wool sweaters so ample that I could secrete the donor sheep in there with me. I burrow under all the blankets, quilts, and random overcoats that I can get my mittens on.

A southern summer is not quite so easy to escape. You can divest yourself of most of your clothing, to the tsk-tsking or ogling of innocent and experienced bystanders, but your skin still sticks with you. The air oozes, thicker than my winter woollies. The very act of breathing makes me work up a sweat. Emerging from my morning shower un-freshed, I dry off merely to wet on. Clothes cling. Rashes arise. The only part of me that delights is my hair; it springs forth, a profusion of frizzy, wiry, cork-screwy curls that make my head appear an over-sized Brillo pad, too big for my body to support, too unwieldy to scour sticky pots in the average-sized kitchen sink.

Air conditioned environs offer some respite and, often, a path to pneumonia. Again, you need a suitcase full of clothing, from bikini to snowsuit, as you never know how hot or cold you'll be, inside or out. I am not a fan of air conditioning, which reminds me that Legionnaire's disease might be just a breath away. Neither do I enjoy being in rooms where fans merely serve to ripple the near-liquid streams of sluggish air.

This is what I am facing today, as the temperature soars to near 100 degrees F, the humidity to 190%, and the combination boils down to a sort of crock pot for stewing any known life form in its own juices.

Needless to write, I am clamoring for Spring or Autumn -- the rains that actually cool us off, the temperate temperatures that enable us to go about our daily business and pleasure without having to pry ourselves off sticky seats, causing us to sacrifice a tender layer of skin and leaving us even more hot and bothered.

1 comment:

  1. And where is that thunder storm we've been hearing about? It'd probably be a hot rain.