Friday, June 19, 2009

A SULTRY SEND-OFF

Today has been a hot one along the riverbank. Ninety-one degrees an hour ago. But worse than the heat was the humidity, which wasn’t helped by the hard morning shower that poured like gangbusters for a quarter hour, then sputtered and drizzled an additional twenty minutes, like a guest who can’t seem to say good night, but keeps lingering by the front door, nibbling on those cookies you always keep handy to the porch. In its aftermath, the river and bankside vegetation steamed briefly with rising vapors, as the sun reappeared and began turning up the burner. From then on it was hot and muggy all the way—a green sauna which seemed to sap the energy like a vampire sucking an artery, while reminding me anew why I’m not all that keen on Ohio’s summer. Of course, technically speaking, summer is yet a day and a solstice away. What kept me under a shade tree, sprawled on the chaise longue with a sweating glass of iced tea clamped permanently in my hand, was actually spring’s last hurrah, a sultry seasonal send-off that I could have done without, thank you very much. The good part is that a few minutes ago I heard thunder rumbling to the west; the bad part is I’ve just checked the National Weather Service’s local radar loop and it shows absolutely nothing on the screen. But it was thunder—distant, yet unmistakable—and I have faith…well, hope, anyway. And it goes without saying the weather oracles don’t always get it right, in spite of their fancy gear. Heavy thunderstorms are predicted for late tonight; a “hazardous weather outlook with possibly severe rains” as those who claim to know put it. Oh, goody! I’ll get to perspire in bed until 2:00 a.m. and then have to worry about possible flooding. No doubt the grass will appreciate the additional rain—after all, today’s heat has probably slowed its growth rate to not more than a half-inch per hour. I cut the stuff on Monday, and already the squirrels bounding around under the sycamores disappear between leaps. Still, what’s a bit more rain to close out this year’s installment of spring? It has already rained three out of the last four days…and possibly twenty out of the last thirty, though I’ve not kept track. A lot of rain, nevertheless. Enough that if I were a more righteous man, I might have begun listening for an on-high voice telling me to start constructing a rather large boat in the side yard, and to expect a great many animals to be arriving two-by-two. The only saving grace in all this is that yesterday I installed the big fan in the great room window. This isn’t one of those piddly “box” fans from the local hardware. This is a fan that’s at least as old as I am, built back in the days when manufacturers took pride in making their products as indestructible as possible, and “planned obsolescence” was not only an unimaginable business principal, but one they would have been ashamed to have heard about, let alone applied to the design of merchandise coming off their assembly line and bearing their name or trademark. It’s the sort of fan that is made to go in a window and move air—lots of air. You can turn it on low, venting out, open any window in the house, and feel the force of the incoming breeze; turn it on high and it will blow your hat off in the hall. In summer’s heat, this efficient-if-venerable fan is my salvation. I don’t like air conditioning. When temperatures soar into the one-hundred-plus range, I still prefer a breeze over refrigeration. My old fan fulfills my needs. Moreover, there are ample ceiling fans scattered throughout the cottage to really keep the interior air currents swirling. However, at the moment—sitting outside, watching the sun sink into a noticeably cloudless sky—I feel about as limp and drooping as the leaves on the weeping willow I photographed following this morning’s rain…and not one bit impressed by spring’s idea of a send-off.

22 comments:

Gail said...

Hi Grizz-

It is settled. We cannot EVER live together. I need AC in the summer, I do.

I felt all sticky and droopy just reading of the sultry heat and humidity.

I still love you
Gail
peace and cold

KGMom said...

I wonder if the heat you have experienced is headed central PA way. We too have had an overly wet spring, and a cool one.
But, I confess, I will take the air conditioning. I do like a breeze, but I am a wimp where heat is concerned.
Now, in winter, I am a happy camper.

Jain said...

Oh, it was a scorcher, at least 90F here, too. We have geothermal air conditioning, which I wallow in and would die (or at least be mighty cranky) without, but there are plenty of days when I miss the old attic fan of my youth.

We received 2.6” of rain in as many hours this morning and I drove to work through deep, muddy puddles. More due tonight, possibly 2+” according to a flash flood watch. 5” in 24 hours would certainly be catastrophic in winter, when most of our floods occur, but the river was low to begin with this week, and I’m hoping trees and fields will do their sponge-y thing. I’ll be watching NOAA alerts closely.

Good luck with your stretch of the river.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Well, huh…another dream shattered! ;-)

I don't like sticky-icky days either, but I don't like the way you get hooked on air conditioning. And I don't like being closed up on a house, like you're in prison. I want to hear birds twitter and owls cough.

Incompatibility is a bummer…

Take care.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

I don't know what the high was for extreme eastern Ohio today, but if it was like here, then you could be in for a warm-up.

Actually, with the fans and this being a stone cottage, I can generally keep the inside temperature in the low seventies, which is plenty comfortable with the addition of air movement.

I grew up in a house with no AC. Have lived in houses and condos with AC which I never used; once owned one of those huge window units in the 7000 BTU range which cost more to run in the three months of summer than my furnace did for the entire winter (I gave it away after the second summer); and have otherwise lived quite well without air conditioning. Don't know if I could manage in Florida, though.

And that's one of the reasons why summer is my least favorite month. Winter's fine, however…I like cozying up to the fire when sleet rattles the windowpanes.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jain…

Well I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought this was a scorching, muggy day…especially after the first of the week when it was really cool. Too hot too soon!

You've had more rain than me, so far (knock on wood). This morning's storm was intense but didn't dump 2 inches …at least it didn't seem that much when I emptied my wheelbarrow which was my accidental rain gauge. We're supposed to get a heavy thunderstorm late tonight, so tomorrow's report might be considerably different.

You might want to pause every so often and listen for some advice about boat building…

Bernie said...

Griz, you have really described the weather there today very well. I could feel the humidity, smell the rain and hear the grass growing.....Here on the Prairie it's quite dry and I feel badly for our farmers though we did have a rain/hail storm yesterday for about 20 minutes. I too have ceiling fans in almost every room but I also have an a/c which I haven't had to hook up yet this summer.
Thanks for sharing my friend..:-)

Rowan said...

Your humidity sounds nightmarish, it's one thing I can't cope with. I've never forgotten a trip to stay with my friends on the NH coast in July - never again at that time of year! The humidity was unbelievable and it was only the air conditioner in my bedroom that kept me going. The rest of the house doesn't have anything apart from fans and open doors but it was bearable - outside was not! I usually go in September now and shall be there this year so am hoping for a nice pleasantly warm, dry Fall:)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

I'm hoping yesterday was not a portent of weather to come—a summer of high heath and humidity.

I would think, out where you're at, that fans would get you through most of the summer, except for perhaps a few sweltering days. I have two ceiling fans in my great room and one in my writing room, and of course, screens in most of the windows. The attic has a fan which keeps it cool so no heat radiates down. This arrangement, with the window fan in the posting, works great; temps inside rarely get above the low-70s.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Minnesota has had an unusually cool spring too but dry. No rain to speak of until last week and now we seem to be in our classic June pattern of rain most evening or night and HUMID the rest of the time. Give me the AC! The heat is one thing, but I REALLY cannot stand the stickiness of the furniture, sheets, floor...blech!

Because as everyone knows...

it's not the heat, it's the humidity.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rowan…

Yup, it's the humidity that kills me, too. Ohio can be muggy during the summer, but doesn't hold a candle to the Deep South states—Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. There, you can hang a damp cotton shirt out in 95 degree direct sunlight, with a breeze, and it will still take hours to dry—if it ever does. I just want to curl up in the shade somewhere and wait for autumn.

But really, it isn't all that bad here. Yesterday just caught everyone off guard, I think. Too much change in three days. This morning, the temperature inside the cottage is a cool 65 degrees. And last night's predicted rain never materialized, and the rain called for all day today has been amended to "mostly sunny."

I do have to cut the grass, though…

Wanda said...

I guess you made it through last night's rain and wind storm...I was expecting to see a mess this morning...but everything seems fine...at least in what I call the "yard proper"...the woods may be another story...we already have one dangerous result there from last week's storm...A rather large water soaked dead decayed branch-less tree about 20-30 ft. is now leaning at a very precarious 35 degree angle...
At least the himidity level is better this morning...but it is still early...

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Lynne…

Amen on that humidity; humidity is the culprit that makes you miserable. Although to be completely honest, I'm so boreal natured that anything above the 70s in the day is too hot.

My ideal is 75 day/55 night, which is why I love the Lake Superior country so much; you can get sunburned in a short-sleeved tee shirt while you're poking along a stream for brookies, and have a campfire and wear a flannel shirt that evening. Good for fishing, good for sleeping. Perfect!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Wanda…

The expected storm never arrived here. Didn't even hear distant thunder after going to bed. It was bright sun at dawn, bright sun now.

Sounds like you had a different scenario, though. I'm glad no damage was done.

I'm not sure how far apart we are—not too far, I think—which just goes to show you how spotty these storm can be. Yet to look at the evening weather map, you'd have thought the whole southern half of Ohio was going to get hit by a night's worth of severe thunderstorms.

Sounds like that leaning tree will have to come down—though it will so on its own, given time. Just depends on the danger factor with kids and all.

Jayne said...

Mercies, so imagine how it feels down here in Georgia right now... you walk outside and feel the heat like an oppressive wrap around your being. Your lungs are even full of the sticky heat. The storms all seem to be swirling around us in an arc that stubbornly refuses to let any near us. Whew. It's really not my cup of tea at all for it to be this hot this soon in the season. Projected high of 98 today with 80% humidity. Sorry... no fans for me in this battle, but I admire your fortitude! Stay cool.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

Well, I can IMAGINE what it's like in Georgia right now with those heat/humidity numbers, because I've been there and in other Southern states under such conditions plenty of times when working; but I can't say I ever enjoyed it…not the weather. The country and people are wonderful, though.

You have to wonder what it took to live there a hundred years ago. With me and my fans it isn't really a question of fortitude or stubbornness—though Lord knows, I'm capable of both to the point of my own undoing. In truth, it just isn't all that bad here. But I don't know what I'd do if I lived in the Deep South. On the one hand I hate heat and humidity, hate air conditioning, and hate being sealed off from the outdoors inside a house. On the other hand…I hate suffering.

I just think the more you get used to AC, the worse you feel when you do go outside—and I like to spend as much time as possible outside, no matter where I'm at. And yeah, I know I'm weird; I'm even weird to me sometimes.

Gail said...

Hi again Grizz-

Ya, bummer is right.

I SO understand about feeling trapped and closed in when the A C is on. I usually only have it on in the bedroom for sleeping when the humidity is unbearable. Also, my health condition is very sensitive to heat and humidity - yet another bummer!! Oh well, no complaint - just fact. :-)

Enjoy the weekend and "Happy Father's Day" to you, my friend on the river.

Love Gail
peace.....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

I understand the health issues—and there's no getting around what you have to do. I'm glad you have AC and that it helps you.

For me, it's a matter of wanting to be more connected to the outside through a screen rather than a pane of glass. That and when I spend much time in an air conditioned room, the heat when I do go outdoors always feels so much hotter; I immediately began sweating and feeling listless.

My mistreated aging body just doesn't seem to do well when I keep putting it through such radical 40, or even 50 degree, changes day after day. My resistance lowers and I'm prone to flu- or cold-like symptoms. My nose runs, bones ache, I feel bad, worn out, and have trouble breathing, almost smothering. Better for me to get used to summer's heat and keep temperature changes in the 20-degree range.

But that's just me…

Thank you for the Father's Day wishes. I don't know what Lacy has planned…but something, for sure. I don't put much stock in celebrating me as a father—but I think being a father is the greatest privilege (and biggest responsibility) there is; nothing has given me more fulfillment or joy. A child is both gift and blessing, the epitome of what life is all about.

I love my daughter with all my heart…and hope, more than anything, that I've been a good father.

Gail said...

Hiagain-

I hear ya on the change in temperatures playing havoc. Damned if Ido and damned if I don't. Oh well.

And you as a Dad? I don't know your history but what I feel about you now - your kindness and gentle spirit and love for your daughter? You are a wonderful man - and a good Dad.

Love Gail
peace.....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

I sure hope so. I sincerely hope I deserve such words, have earned them honestly. If I could choose my legacy, more than anything I want to always—past, present, future—have been a good father.…a good man.

The Weaver of Grass said...

It made me tired, hot and sweaty just reading your post, Scribe. There is no weather I hate more than sultry - it seems to sap every bit of my energy. Like you I too hate air conditioning so your old-fashioned fan installation sounds fine by me. Hope you got your thunderstorm! (and no flooding) Happy solstice.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

No thunderstorm…sun only, but not quite so hot and not nearly so humid.

Fans work for me, though I've certainly been places where I'm not sure that would be possible.

However, a friend, originally from the high country of Utah, who served four duty tours in Vietnam (eight years, I believe) where daytime temps were usually 100 or more and the humidity was like that of steam, says otherwise. When he finally elected to return to the States, as a sort of reward for all his time and service in the Combat Zone, they sent him from 'Nam to Hawaii and flew his wife in from Utah, for a week's vacation before being mustered out Air Force. According to him, he spent the entire week trying to keep from freezing to death. He said he put on every stitch of clothing from his duffel, including a flack jacket, and went up and down the halls of the hotel, stealing blankets from other rooms. He and his wife couldn't sleep in the same bed because he needed piles of cover to keep from chilling. During the day, his wife would swim in the pool and off Waikiki Beach, while he huddled in the sun under a stack of blankets from the hotel. From there he went to Texas. Apparently it took his another week or two to acclimate to being able to make it during the day, even in a Texas summer, without a jacket.

The point being, I suppose, that if I lived long enough even in Florida, I could probably get by with fans rather than air conditioning. I'd try, anyway. Sultry would still be sultry, though.