Feels Like

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Today there is a heat index of 108. The actual temperature is about 97. For my friends in dryer climes, that means while where you live 97 feels like 97, which is already pretty hot, in areas of high humidity where the air takes the heat and boils it a bit to make it more interesting, it feels to us like you would feel if it was 108 outside. Or, as Lewis Black likes to point out: Then it’s 108!!

This weekend it is the same temperature inside since my air conditioning is broken and they can’t get out here to fix it until Monday at the earliest. I have fans going, windows open for a cross-non-breeze, and, well, I’m sweating a lot. I really don’t mind. I’m working in the garden where I know it is exactly 82 degrees right now but will spin quickly into the mid-nineties. I always know the temperature in the garden. Also, I’m doing a lot of other outside work, I’ll hose myself down, do more, then drive to the market in the village to sit in the car’s ac for a bit. Also, I bought lime ice pops.

I remember once when I lived in Tucson and the temps were in the mid one hundred teens, I called my dad and was talking about it and he said, “Yes, but that’s a dry heat.” Yeah. So’s a blow torch. I parked my car outside a mall in South Tucson for the day and when I came out a portable plastic clock I had on the dashboard melted.

It’s so hot that swimming in the Rappahannock with water temps around 80 feels cold.

Still, it is what it is. I’m of the philosophy that complaining about it, or ever mentioning it to be honest, simply makes me more aware of it and, therefore, makes it worse. It is what it is. I’m going to go work in the yard and lose a few pounds by clearing out part of a trail I have been wanting to work on, and tending to new flowers I’ve planted which, apparently, deer don’t like. And I’ve got plenty of water. It’s like the time Michael and I walked from Sanguesa, Spain, to Javier, Spain, about 8 miles, on a desert, uphill, no trees, road. When we paid attention to the amazing vistas southeast of Pamplona, I forgot all about the heat. I took a picture of my son next to the sign welcoming us to Javier, and he is dripping in sweat, but has a look on his face, as did I, that said there is nowhere else on the planet we’d rather be.

I even said to him this morning, “108 today.” His reply? “It’s June.”

Yeah. Have another lime pop.

The physical effects of weather are said to be among the strongest memory triggers we possess. When a cold wind blows in January I’m immediately transported back to Rich Stadium in Buffalo, or Freeport, Maine, one disturbing February afternoon. And when it is hot like this, I remember the small patio outside my parent’s condo. Dad and I would sit out there and talk about work, about sports, about nothing at all as he sipped a beer and watched the thermometer on the fence. He loved to tell me when it was about to hit 100. Some days it would make it to the mid-nineties and he’d say, “I really thought it was going to make it today, but it didn’t.” He never, ever. Ever. Complained about the weather.

The thermometer is hanging on the back of the shed in the middle of my garden letting me know what the real temperature is; I have to figure out the “feels like” part on my own by just adding fifteen degrees and subtracting one lung.

But later I’ll go out and listen to the Mets on the radio while I tend to some plants and remember what it was like to sit on the patio. And it will be hot, obviously, and I’ll sweat a lot and glance toward the thermometer waiting for it to hit 100. But I won’t complain. It is what it is.

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