Three years ago about this time, I was making my way across the southern California desert riding the remnants of the Mother Road. Much of that once mighty highway is lonely lane of asphalt stretching out for flat miles with nothing on either side but sand, sparse vegetation and mountains in the distance. This time of year the road becomes a strip of bacon sizzling in the desert sun. 107℉ with spikes to 110℉ was the norm during the four hour drive.
This morning at 7am when I opened the back door to let out the dogs, I was hit in the face with that memory. Flashes of the Amboy Crater popped into my head and I half expected the backyard to be littered with bit and pieces of volcanic rock. I quickly retreated into the luxurious comfort of my air conditioned home and willed the pups to take care of business quickly.
I have lived all my adult life in the southern United States; The South where it is “sticky” from April until December. Hot, humid summers are the expected thing and we are rarely disappointed, but this summer is taking the cake. Even those who make the satirical remark, “Imagine that, Georgia hot in June?” will have to admit, it’s not just hot right now, it’s damn hot.
When I was a kid, we lived in Phoenix, Arizona (See Drowning in the Desert). The five years we spent out there showed us what western hot could be. One summer all the neighborhood kids got together and fried eggs on the sidewalk and my Mom watched the rubber seal around her car windshield melt like a slow tar river.
Southern hot is different. Put an egg on the sidewalk, it will poach. Things don’t really melt here, they stew. A second skin is a constant accessory. Once when I was in New York, I came out of a hotel restroom stall to find a young woman looking in the mirror complaining that the humidity was ruining her curls. I thought to myself, honey you don’t know humidity until you watch the sweat from your sweet, iced tea grow mildew on your glass.
The storms predicted for tonight and early this week don’t raise the hopes for relief. They mean a third layer of skin; insect repellant. 100% humidity and standing water and it’s party time for the insect population. We’ve already seen an increase in gnats, mosquitoes, fleas and for the first time ever in the house, tics (yes, we are combing over the animals each time they come from outside – I don’t do parasites). After the rains, we will be laying down a veterinarian recommended Spectracide®, another first.
I’m not sure what the rest of the summer will bring. There’s meteorological mumbo-jumbo about this weather pattern and that weather pattern, but anyone who lives in this area could have told you that this was to be a scorcher. Mild winters breed hot summers. That’s the way this region rolls. The mystery lies in the height the mercury will hit and the length of wave’s stay.
So place your bets, raise your umbrellas, fans, fly swatters and hem lengths to toast this first heat of summer. It’s going to be one hell of one to remember.