Sometimes a respite only reminds me of what I'm missing. It's the thirty-second consecutive day where we've hit over 100 degrees Fahrenheit here in Fort Worth, and it's wearing. During my week in Canada, I described it to my extended family as rather like February in the north--when it snows while you're Christmas shopping, it's charming. When you're still shoveling snow two months later, it's totally not.
The heat isn't that bad, I've always claimed. The predictability of it has always rather appealed to me in contrast to the other, volatile Texan seasons, where torrential rains, tornadic winds, property-damaging hail and rapid temperature drops can all occur inside of an hour, usually when I am driving home. But in summer my air-conditioning kicks on every half-hour or so during the night, and I know when I get up to walk the dog the relentless, burning sun will have risen in a bracingly blue cloudless sky. Every. Single. Day.
I remember running after school in rural Ontario in the grip of winter. The sun had earlier been bright against a blue sky on those days, too, though it did nothing to warm up my world, but by now it was going down in a hurry. I'd look down occasionally as my Nikes squeaked on the hard-packed snow and wrinkled my nose to unstick my nostrils, glued together by the frigid air. I was proud of playing through.
These days in my adopted home, I need serious sunscreen if I'm out after eight in the morning. Running errands in the afternoon can leave one exhausted--it's 60 degrees in the store and 115 in the parking lot, a bit hard on the constitution. I'm tired of drinking water, which it seems I must do all day long if I do more than sit and answer my correspondence.
For a week the children and I went north, though it was rather hot for there as well. Still, as we walked out of the airport, that oven-like heat his us and we all groaned a moment. Again, I am inclined to play through and get out each morning (another plus side of heat is that if you get up early enough in the morning you get a break) and even on the odd evening on my bike, though when we hit 107 yesterday I decided it wouldn't be prudent. When hot yoga at 95 degrees is cooler than outdoors, something is amiss, though I've made it back there a few times since our trip.
The cold, though I find it more unpleasant than the heat, never really frightened me, perhaps because I was a child in the greatest extremes. The cold has more sounds at night: I remember trees popping and the sound of large icicles falling in the dark. Cars wheels squeaking on the snow and clear voices. The cold was solid and benign. The heat is silent, but ruthless and unforgiving, and I still wonder as I did when I arrived a decade and a half ago if the road might not spontaneously ignite in front of me. It feels, as I once wrote, Biblical. We all wonder if the heat and the concurrent drought is some sort of punishment, or appropriate preparation for it. Will it ever end, we ask? I heard a radio host say our record from 1980 was forty-two day over 100. Bring it, he said. He must be new here.