One man’s heat is another (wo)man’s dewy morn

It hits 92 degrees and folks so ballyhoo the event, you'd think a UFO had landed.

Flying discs and their discussion aside, this ain't heat. Please. Let me interject that heat''s relative. I understand that. I understand that 92 in a region renowned for its rain and cool climate would make it appear that the very gates into the Inferno have swung open.

They have not.

Indeed, if it's the Inferno you wish to visit, from my town you'll need to get in your car and drive southeastward for 18 hours and 27 minutes, covering 1273.32 miles. That'll put you in Vegas, where today's low is 84. A mere 8 degrees separates their low and our high.  

Remain in your car, with the air conditioner cranked to the full, and drive due east a couple more hours. That'll land you at the true gateway to the Inferno, where gigantic blazes are consuming the central core of a tinder-dry, water-deprived, drought-stricken state. Where it's 104 in that former place.

And the heat and fires have only just begun. A month from now, 104 will be but a memory of a cold snap when the thermometer settles in at 115 to 120 day after scorching day after blazing day after dry leather-skinned day.

It's nigh impossible to describe that heat to one who's not experienced it. Like the 15 classifications of snow amongst the Eskimos, heat too has its distinct nuances and finer points. Anything below 100 is not hot; at 100, it's getting hot but it's bearable. It's first gear in the car.

At 110, it shifts into second. The light clothing worn at 100 degrees feels heavy, the skin tight, taut, oppressed, burdened. At least mine did. (Duly noted: my genetic heritage is northern Europe.) The body slows down. Seeks rest and respite from its active mechanisms to keep itself cool. Siestas become a natural and healthy response. Nothing can be done quickly, neither should it be.

Bump it up another 5 degrees and now we've entered the no-fly zone. While the differences between 110 and 115 are nuanced and palpable, at 115 and upwards, they evaporate. It's an oven of even heat, a blanket without cooling air pockets. Shade brings no relief. It's a level of heat that can and does kill.

Words fail … so a pictorial representation for the imaginative and visually inclined (degrees are ballpark):

Below 100




So, no offense to the weather wimps of western Washington sounding the horn in the 90's. However, that's an autumn evening after the sun's gone down … a stroll in the shade … a picnic in a park … a dewy morn … an invitation for yard work at breakfast time. Heat is my former state on fire and the vast lands blackened and seared, resembling, as one described it, the aftermath of a nuclear explosion.

Now that's hot.

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