Enough. With. The. Heat. Already.

I love my treehouse. It's in a '30's quad with the original kitchen and bathroom tile floor and counter, and a fossil-pocked limestone exterior. I'm on the second floor, no outside faucet close enough, nor sufficient shade to keep more than a few plants alive. I have 2 spider plants and a cactus that I water by hand. A friend rescued my begonia, and keeps it in her shadier yard, among her jungle of plants, which she waters at least daily. Twelve hours at most. Fifteen, and the tenderer leaves are supper.

Yam is doing fine, because confined, and because she lives inches from the kitchen faucet, so I have no excuse whatsoever to not keep her and Ivy topped up with water.

There's a stubborn high-pressure center squatting over central Texas that just will not budge. We're going into our third month of century-plus temperatures, and the asphalt actually melts. At the end of the summer, there will be tire-shaped wells of black gunk at every traffic light and stop sign (which means "slow down and look for cops before you punch right through" in Texas).

The North and East get potholes--we get the La Brea tar pits. Walking to the parking garage this afternoon I was buffeted by 104 degree winds, squinting to check for vehicles, glad I had my Oz umbrella. Constantly seeking shade, suspended in searing air, thoroughly grateful that my car was under a roof all day, and that it will take only a few blocks to cool it down. As opposed to several miles if it's been parked out in the sun for even a few minutes. And I have a white car. With a honkin' big dashboard reflector.

Stuff cooks in your car. For real. Cans and bottles can explode, water jugs bloat and pop their lids. Years ago, I forgot a 48-count Crayola box in the back of my old Toyota station wagon. A gray, mottled pool of wax flowed from wall to wall--a clump of paraffin saturated, multi-colored wrappers embedded at gound zero, proclaiming the names of the late departed cylindrical inhabitants, like Burnt Sienna, Charcoal Gray...did they envision their fiery end? We could have excised the carpet intact and entered it in a science fair as a pretty darn good model of Mount Vesuvius.

People get downright pugilistic over the few shady parking spots on the street. It's a known fact that Texans will willingly walk for blocks in the heat rather than return to a half-ton oven hot enough to roast barbecue, and that's with the windows down. You hear horror stories of babies and dogs perishing in cars--all true. It can happen within minutes, especially if they are already dehydrated. Never ever ever leave any tender living thing in a car unattended.

This is the kind of heat that they warned me about in New Mexico--it is critical (as in a matter of life and death) to hydrate to the max BEFORE you go outside. Drink a quart of water as you're getting ready to leave. Carry 2-1/2 gallon containers of water at least, two are even better. If you don't need it, your radiator (or someone else's) might. Drink BEFORE you feel thirsty, and continuously throughout the day. Toss a solar blanket in the trunk. Make sure your car's fluids are topped off. Wear a hat, sunscreen, long sleeves.

There's a scene in the movie "Jarhead" where the lieutenant lines up his men in formation, then orders them to unscrew a bottle of water and drink it down. He does this every hour on the hour. It is imperative to think of water as necessary as breathing.

Heat exhaustion warning signs: dizziness, black spots in your vision, parched skin and mouth--if you're not wet with sweat, you've used up all your water. Loss of limb control, difficulty speaking, confusion. Oh, wait. That's me on a normal day. It can come over you quickly--get to shade and water immediately.

OK, yeah, yeah, I know you know all this. Guess what? We forget. We indulge in wishful thinking, that it's really not that hot out, we're acclimated, what's the problem? By the time you realize there's a distinct possibility that you maybe should exercised precaution, you're taking a swan dive off a curb into oncoming traffic, the maniac behind the wheel tossing his steering wheel like a hot potato, because, well, it IS like a hot potato, and it's burned through a couple of layers of skin. To top it off, his buns are seared because he's wearing a nylon Brazilian bathing thong, which is melting into the plastic seat covers of his pickup truck, legs jerking up and down like a demented drummer. It can happen.

A typical Texas summer heat wave--not! Weather records are falling like clockwork--each day emblazoning a new record in the annals. Think I'll go check the water level in the Britta, feeling a bit dessicated...


Anonymous said...

Claudia, I was born in Austin. Left in 1946 at ten and have only returned for visits with family, still lots of cousins in the area. Heat in the summer is one of the reasons I could never live there again. Love getting away from Ohio cold in Feb to see the cousins and 93 year old aunt but not this time of year. Stay hydrated and on the shady side of the street.

Alice said...

Geez! I got thirsty just reading this. Excuse me while I go get a glass of water.

kokopelliwoman said...

Hi, Anon, thanks :) I really don't think I can take another summer like this one. We've just now cooled down to the 70's days, 50's nights, and it's nearly Halloween!

kokopelliwoman said...

LOL @ Alice :) Bring me one while you're at it...thanks!