The Heat Is On


“Heat, ma’am!  It was so dreadful here that I found there was nothing left for it
but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones.”
~Sydney Smith, 
Lady Holland’s Memoir

If you know me at all–or have been reading this blog for any length of time–then you know I am a self-professed summer-lovin’ fool.  In my mind, no other time of year can compete with my joyful season in the sun and all the gifts that it brings.

I love sinking my teeth into the sun-ripened fruits of summer–juicy strawberries and peaches and watermelons, tart blueberries and blackberries and cherries.  I love grilling burgers and fresh veggies on the back deck while a gallon of sun tea brews on the railing. I love the brilliant splashes of yellow and red and purple in my flower beds, set against a backdrop of vibrant greens.  And I love the lazy days that seem to stretch on forever, from early-morning sunrise to late-evening sunset with in-between afternoons spent reading and dreaming in the glistening warmth.

In fact, to quote the writer Henry James, “Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”  At least, until this year . . .

It’s only the middle of July, and AccuWeather.com is already claiming that this summer “is in the running for one of the top three hottest summers in the past 60 years in the United States and southern Canada.”  If the current heat wave continues much longer, there is a very good chance that the summer of 2012 will take top honors–and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the heat wave is almost definitely going to continue.  Here’s the seven-day forecast for my area (note that the forecasted temperatures for today and tomorrow are actually down from the previous week’s temperatures because of a weak “cool” front):

Lovely.

According to NOAA, the long-range outlooks suggest not only prolonged above-normal temperatures and but also below-normal precipitation throughout the rest of this month, with the remaining summer and upcoming fall outlooks no better.  And Weathernation.com is reporting that the U.S. is experiencing its worst drought in 55 years with no relief in sight.  It just released its weekly drought monitor, which shows that “80.75% of the country is under one form or another of drought, while 42.23% is under severe drought or worse.”  The area where I live is considered to be in the “severe” category (and expected to be in the “extreme” by next week)–which I’m sure every farmer with scorched crops and every rancher with hungry cattle could tell you without looking at the map.

Okay, enough already and altogether now . . . one, two, three . . . “UNCLE!”

This is ridiculous.  At first I hoped my flowers and bushes would bloom if I continued to water them.  Then, when the daily waterings weren’t enough to combat the triple-digit temperatures day after day after day, I realized expecting blooms was unrealistic–and hoped that the flowers and bushes just wouldn’t die completely.  But now I’ve accepted defeat and given up on them, focusing my worries instead on all the mature, drooping trees that are turning brown and dropping their leaves and branches.  My poor yard.

I’m tired of my once-green lawn crunching beneath my shoes–and not being able to walk outside barefoot because the few, remaining spikes of grass are needle-sharp.  I’m tired of rivulets of sweat coursing down my back on the short walk to the mailbox–and feeling confined indoors where the air conditioner runs almost continuously.  I’m tired of puffy, black clouds making a brief appearance in the afternoon sky–and feeling lucky when they sprinkle just enough drops to settle the dust but, more often, disappointed when they roll right on through without so much as a spit to prove they weren’t just an illusion.

And I feel guilty for complaining (okay, whining) about how tired I am of this incessant weather when I am repeatedly reminded of the even worse weather conditions that our troops are facing overseas (combined with the threat of physical harm).  I am safe, and I am lucky.

I feel guilty for complaining about the infernal heat when I think about all the men and women working out in it and when I hear that, in my state alone, 24 heat-related deaths have already been recorded since June.  As long as I stay inside, I am cool, and I am lucky.

And I feel guilty for complaining because I know whatever frustration or annoyance I’m feeling, it is nothing compared to the fear and stress felt by the farmers and ranchers whose very livelihoods are being threatened.  I have a steady income, and I am lucky.

But being lucky doesn’t mean I can’t still long for the cooler (and, hopefully, wetter) days of fall.  I’m ready to kiss this summer goodbye and to trade my standard shorts and flip flops for blue jeans and boots.  I’m ready for chilly, night breezes drifting through the open windows instead of stale, re-circulated air blowing through the vents.  I’m ready to see my breath in the crisp, morning air instead of brown, dust-covered surfaces everywhere I look.  And I’m ready for the spiciness of homemade chili and the cinnamon goodness of hot apple pie instead of the constant taste of salty perspiration upon my lips.

I’ll be a sun-worshiping, summer-lovin’ fool again next year, but for now . . . bring on the rain (please!) and bring on fall.  I’m ready.

This is what summer usually means to me . . . 

beautiful flowers . . .

sunsets over the lake . . . 


and lazy afternoons on the back deck with a good book and a glass of iced tea
for company.

But this summer’s oppressive heat and drought already have me wishing for the cool, crisp days of fall.

This was my yard last fall.  Unfortunately, so many of the leaves have already died that I’m not expecting this fall’s colors to be nearly as vibrant.

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About icedteawithlemon

I have recently retired from a 30-year career in education in one of the best school districts in the world. I hope to spend my second life reading, writing, photographing, traveling, biking, cheering on my favorite baseball team (the St. Louis Cardinals), and soaking up glorious sunshine. In my spare time I enjoy playing with my pet tarantulas, trying out new flavors of chewing gum, and knitting socks for prison inmates. I'm almost positive that in a past life I was one of the Seven Dwarfs (most likely "Grumpy"), and in my next life I'm going to be either a taste tester for Hershey's or a model for Victoria's Secret's new line, "Bloomers for Boomers." I want to travel country back roads, singing Vanilla Ice songs at every karaoke bar and rating bathroom cleanliness at every truckstop. And someday I plan to own a private beach where skinny girls aren't allowed. I want to be a writer when I grow up. "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake."--Henry David Thoreau
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13 Responses to The Heat Is On

  1. Homestead Ramblings says:

    Oh man, I hear ya. I live an hour south of Kansas City and yesterday was 105. The strangest thing is our humidity. For some odd reason, we have had humidity levels unheard of, like 23%. Almost any given day it is less than 37% humidity. Never have I seen such low levels, which is a double edged sword. It makes the heat more tolerable, but as soon as any storms reach our area, they fizzle up and dry out. Not a drop of substantial rain in months. So strange.

    • We have suffered from the same lack of humidity–which I would normally consider a good thing, but the dryness created by it has been so devastating. I was in Kansas City last weekend, and I can certainly attest to the fact that the heat is just as bad to the north!

  2. SUE says:

    You might want to spend the rest of the summer in LA!! Weather there is pretty near PERFECT & hopefully you will have an opportunity to spend LOTS of time on the beach – the most comforting place in the world once you find a quiet peaceful patch of sand. I agree – we are lucky & I worry about the farmers & the animals with nothing to eat & the ponds & wells going dry – scary. Blessed is the rain we got yesterday!!!

    • Sue, my sons have been bragging about how beautiful the weather has been in LA, and I’m looking forward to visiting and enjoying the cooler temps–and doesn’t it seem strange that southern California would be cooler than the Midwest? Trips to the beach are definitely on the agenda …

      • SUE says:

        Zeke recommends “Zuma Beach” in Malibu -30050 Pacific Coast Hwy
        Malibu, CA 90265. Not as busy as Venice Beach, etc – best, of course, in the winter months when no one is around. Just dipping toes in the Pacific Ocean & watching the dolphins makes me happy.

  3. Janine richardson says:

    Well my dear, you do sound fed up. I would be happy to send you a sprinkling of the constant rain that we are experiencing over here in England. We had our summer. Two brief weeks in April I think it was. (Myimd forgets, it seems so long ago). Since then it has bloody well rained all day everyday. Right now it’s spitting intermittently, but I’m not holding my breath. Summer sun seems like a far off hazy dream, with no hope of ever occurring. Never. Apparently it’s due to a wet front that usually has the good manners to fall over the channel but has taken a liking to the land instead. Ain’t that considerat. Sorry about the loss of your garden though. Not to mention your porch lozaking afternoons. Non of that for me either but for opposite reasons obviously. Weather sucks. We suck for polluting the atmosphere and causing it. But I like to have someone/thing other to blame. My grass is too soggy to sit on. This makes me sad. I miss lying on a blanket on the lawn wasting away time with my trusty companion. (My kindle). I wonder who has ended up with all the baby bear weather? Hmmm.

    • Ha! You have certainly provided an interesting contrast, the “flip side of the coin.” We had a winter and spring that were both warmer and drier than normal–which seemed wonderful at the time, but we are certainly paying for it now with failing crops and wells that are threatening to run dry. Although I would love to visit England someday, I would find the current sogginess dreary and depressing. At least I have sunshine. 🙂

  4. RayEtta says:

    I think all of us living anywhere near your area feel just the same. Early last fall we had a time similar to this. It got very dry and I commented one day to my aunt that it reminded me of being near the desert in California. So dry and no humidity. Our humidty has been low too until yesterday when it was 67%. I stayed in and watched movies. Let’s all hope and pray for the best. I keep remember my grandmother talking about the “dust bowl”, back in, was it the 20’s or 30’s?

    • When I look at the drought maps, it’s easy to see that the majority of the country is experiencing the same hot, dry weather that we are. I typically complain more about the humidity than I do the heat, but the lack of humidity has been such a terrible curse for the plants, wildlife and livestock that I would gladly sweat again. The Dust Bowl was in the mid-1930s and served as the basis for one of my favorite novels, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Let’s hope we don’t see a repeat.

  5. We’re thinking of you here. Our city is not known for extreme heat or cold (just wind) so we’re hoping it just gets better for you. Phillipa

    • Thank you, Phillipa–I’m not sure where your city is, but I just checked out your blog and read your thoughts on the drought–much appreciated. I also noticed you have several food-related posts, which I will definitely be checking out. I love to cook–and I love to eat even more!

  6. bronxboy55 says:

    It does seem to be a summer of extremes. As with all other topics, you expressed it vividly in words and pictures. I only wish I had some cool rain to send your way.

    • Thank you, Charles. The heat wave here continues, with no end in sight. I just got home from a trip to LA; we drove through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, and everywhere the scenery was the same–dusty brown and brittle. I feel for those whose livelihood depends on the weather.

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