Monday, August 16, 2010

Times I've Been Hot (Not Like That!)

We've reached the mid-August heat wave here, though compared to a lot of places in North America, I reckon we're doing pretty well. I think we've only had a few days in the last few weeks that have been over 25°C (77°F)*. We were doing worse this time last year, when we had a week of 40°C (104°F) and I spent the whole time doing not much of anything except fan myself and pray I didn't get heat stroke on the way to work. 

So, in a semi-ode to the weather and because nothing from my list of blog post ideas strikes my fancy today, I thought I'd share some of my previous experiences with weather-based heat.**

Experience 1: My grandparents used to have an orchard in the Okanagan Valley. For those of you not highly familiar with BC geography, the Okanagan is not only a tourist destination and the fruit bowl of the province, but it's also basically a desert. Summers regularly get to 40°C or higher, meaning that  all outdoor work must be done before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m. or you're almost guaranteed to get heat stroke***. Of course, my family would visit my grandparents for a week or so every summer, and the kids and grandkids helped pick fruit to take home. We were rewarded for coping with the heat by trips to the lake in the afternoon, and by the fact that my grandparents had air conditioning.

Experience 2: We also regularly visited the orchard during our spring break from school, so that Dad could help get things ready for summer there. Mostly this meant he was grafting and budding trees. I got drafted for a few years to help with budding—in the early morning sun, on sand for hours at a time, but with adult supervision and a canteen of water.

Experience 3: The area I grew up in is classified as semi-desert or grassland, depending on which altitude you're at. Summer's regularly 25-30°C (77-86°F), which makes it marginally tolerable to be outdoors in the afternoon, but almost gives pretty good incentive to not be so. Fortunately, we lived near enough to a lake that we could head to the beach or go out on the water, and cool off that way.

Experience 4: The summer of 2003, Dad and I went to Germany (and region) for a month. This was part grad gift, part research trip (for him) and we spent a lot of the time travelling and staying with relatives to keep the costs down because they're family. 2003 was also the summer that much of Europe had weeks of 40°C-ish heat and the eldery were dying in droves from the temperatures. Europe's a fantastic experience, but it's slightly diminished when all you can think of sometimes is "need water" and "am melting". Fortunately, everyone sells mineral water and we're big on mineral water in my family.

Experience 5: The summer of 2003 in Canada was one of the worst recent ones for forest fires****. 2010's a pretty bad summer in that regard too. I've never been close enough to a fire to be part of an evacuation notice, but I've certainly been close enough to see the charred, smoking remains of hillsides, and to live under smoke haze for weeks at a time. It's scary, and it isn't fun, and if there was a magic wand to make global warming and all its side effects disappear, I would wave it like the world was ending. 

What are your most memorable encounters with heat?

* I know the duplication is possibly annoying, but I'm assuming that there are people reading this blog who can't do conversions in their head. People like me, in other words.
** As opposed to electronics-based heat, a.k.a. the different ways I've burned myself. 
*** It only happened to me once.


Hannah said...

I was in the 2003 heat wave in Europe too. We were very glad when we got to Spain and the hotel rooms had air conditioning.

We had to move during some very bad heat last summer. We had the door propped open to bring furniture in but were running the air conditioner full-blast anyway to keep the house cool...irresponsible but necessary at the time!

Anassa said...

Oh, yes! My family's moved multiple times in heat. Twice without any sort of movers, so we did all the heavy furniture lifting on our own. Or my parents did, because I was small… I'd like to never go through that again.