Skip to content

Heated moments

July 19, 2010

Dan took this picture while panting at a stoplight in his un-airconditioned truck last week. Since then, friends have reported seeing thermometers at 102F and even 105F here at 6512 feet.

It’s a dry heat, not unlike living in a sauna. Taking deep breaths is more an exercise in choking than surviving. Large portions of my brain have simply melted. The 60% of my body that is water is actually now iced coffee.

Still life - literally - with very hot chickens

Our cat, reposing amongst shady day lilies and roses

The children have been little Buddhas. I don’t think they’ve actually noticed that we’ve been baking alive.

Driving to the river yesterday, I noticed my gas gauge on empty and let out a word or two that alarmed the children. I explained that we’re now TEN EXTRA MINUTES FROM GETTING TO THE RIVER. “That’s okay Mama,” five year old Sensei-Col assured me. They sat in the inferno-y car, windows rolled down, calmly reading magazines while I grumbled and paced, pumping gas and releasing torrents of sweat by simply blinking.

Walking to the river, Col stopped—in the shade of nothing—to check out yellow jackets buzzing around an irrigation water puddle. “They have their own swimming pool!” He reported cheerily, while the heat bleached my eyeballs and made the world go fuzzy.

We got to the river and everything was okay. Just like that. The water was so deliciously chilly that even sticking my pinky toe in cleansed the whole past week of walking around with a wet washcloth on my head.

Col, who operates under the premise that there’s always something to do, spent the first 15 minutes scurrying purposefully under the brush, finding: 2 large sticks, a broken pipe which he filled with tiny rocks, and 2 feathers. Meanwhile, Rose, who is apprentice to the sensory delights, engaged in the pure pleasure of wild water.

This picture sums up everything

I failed again at equanimity because all my refreshed elatedness got traded for sour grapes upon belting myself back into the 500 degree car. But the kids, those glorious kids, rolled in sand like a breaded chicken breast, were singing in the backseat “we’re river people now, aren’t we Mama?”


Our friend Cody came over Friday morning to borrow a coyote skull (and a cup of sugar, two eggs and…) for his science camp and before I had even placed wet washcloth #7 upon noggin, he said: “it’s another beautiful day out there!” I swallowed my first Eeyore-ish response and realized in a weird, freakishly perspiring way, he was right. In winter, when life is lived inside, I will wistfully remember splashing in the river and drinking a nut brown ale outside, in the sweaty shade of our apple tree. I will remember my children’s sun-glistening bodies and how the winter squash reached triumphantly for the sky:

And how the lettuce hid from the heat under the shadows of sunflowers:

Can you see the lettuce growing under the sunflowers? This blessed marriage is the key to harvesting salads all summer here at 6512 feet.

I will remember going to the mountains where the summer temperature is always lovely when surrounded by columbines, bluebells and larkspur taller than our children’s heads.

The color coordination is a total coincidence

Cooling off at 10,000 feet, and why yes, that *is* a deer skin cape.

And I will remember that it was all good, with a side of iced coffee.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. abozza permalink
    July 19, 2010 7:32 am

    It is definitely hard to remember that we were wishing for this, 6 short months ago! We have no lakes around here, but visit the pool and for the few hours we are there, the world is right.

  2. July 19, 2010 8:40 am

    We escaped the heat this week too by heading up our mountain (you probably would call it a hill at about 3200 ft) to swim in a spring fed lake. It has been unusally hot here this summer too. And I am afraid that I have been hibernating and reminiscing about a summer in college that I did nothing but sit in our dark basement apartment and eat peaches…bushels of peaches.

    I love your lettuce under the sunflowers trick.

  3. Kathy permalink
    July 19, 2010 8:53 am

    A thought to ponder: which is more difficult to breathe, super mosit heated air or dry heated air. Buckets come through the pores in high humidity too! But baking is not better. I wonder what mid-August will be like. Here in Michigan we have already had August and I wonder what August will be, itself or an early September. I would bet itself.
    My relief is running through the sprinkler on odd days when we can water the lawn, which we don’t do much of here in late summer. The grass goes brown and dormant in August and greens up again in our rainy fall. And surpise, it is green beneath the snow too, all winter long!
    We too can go to the river, the Detroit river, but we don’t own a boat and don’t know anyone who does. You can fish, but not play in it, unless you are in a boat. Sometimes a cooling breeze flows through the parks along the big river.
    I can’t wait to wander the Animas river walk… soon!

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      July 20, 2010 8:04 am

      Speaking of dry heat. I hung wet clothes up inside at 1:30pm. By 4pm, everything was dry. Outside, wet hair dries in 1/2 hour.

  4. July 19, 2010 8:55 am

    It’s been hot here too! You know it’s hot when all the plants are wilting even after a good soaking in the morning. We escaped to Lake Tahoe and it was actually a bit chilly! Stay cool!

  5. July 19, 2010 8:56 am

    Rachel, what a lucky family you have.
    I love how someone knows to come a knockin’ for a coyote skull.
    And….I love your last line.

    Good grief… that heat. ugh. And I complain on that rare day when it gets to 90 in Seattle.

  6. July 19, 2010 10:27 am

    The river looked so cool and refreshing. I remember going into the mountains to get relief from the city heat and the rivers and creeks never failed to cool you off.

    We have been baking here as well….with an incredible amount of humidity. You would think all that moisture in the air would bring us some much needed rain but it does not. Fabulous idea with the sunflowers and lettuce…just brilliant!

    I like your outlook on things….I need to start thinking like that more often. Thanks for the reminder! :)

  7. Ami permalink
    July 19, 2010 10:35 am

    Oh – I love this post. For so many reasons. I do not envy your heatwave. That’s for sure. And it seems that every other place in the country reaches such temperatures at some point in the year, even if briefly… except for us… and so, I found myself driving an hour and half, just so I could use my sunscreen and was SO thankful it was only in the 80’s. After such a long, cool, wet spring, around here – summer has been the elusive season… teasing us that it is arriving with a day or two of sunshine and then retreating east under a thick belt of grey fog.
    Alas, I just returned home from a 2 day trip to the river, and besides beating the heat, there is something about swimming in that flow that cleanses the soul!
    Btw- congrats on the diva cup! :) he he he!

  8. July 19, 2010 12:51 pm

    Ah, the irony of the season we’re not currently in, seeming like the greener pasture. There will be ALOT to appreciate once the chill and cold set in…I’m loving the writing about the heat, and we are not hot at all, yet! It may come or not. Last year when we rode out similar temps, my chickens were all panting…yours look chilled and composed! Iced coffee in their waterer ;-) ?? It must be that they can acclimatize instead of going from the freezer to the frying pan…(chickens cover your ears on that last comment!).

    Thanks for sharing your days with us!!

  9. July 19, 2010 3:48 pm

    Hate. The. Heat. Ugh. We’re on day 97 of triple-digit weather, or so it seems, and I am grumpy, grumpy, grumpy (one “grumpy” for each digit of temperature I’m forced to endure). Maybe I need a cool river, an iced coffee, and some perspective from a pint-sized person. =>

  10. Melissa permalink
    July 19, 2010 7:19 pm

    ooh, girl. i grew up in the sacramento valley–loathe the heat.

    but love this post!

    and equanimity . . . elusive, fleeting–overrated?
    xo from foggy sf

  11. July 21, 2010 12:31 pm

    I am not a fan of the heat either – may be a big reason why I left sunny, tropical Malaysia. Ugh.

    But I do love your humorous description of the heat. It’s keeping me smiling as I sit on this most boring conference call of my life.

    Great visual with: “children’s sun-glistening bodies.” That is the first thing I always remember about my trip home this year with my family. My daughter’s sun-glistening body in her first taste of my home and the HOT HOT heat. Of course, just like your kids, she was oblivious to it as the rest of us melted into our surroundings.

  12. July 21, 2010 11:38 pm

    I am catching up on your blog…lovely. My favorite! I had to say that I adore your Col. He just seems like a sweet little monkey. I want him on my knee while I read him a book and I want to watch him run (through only natural air!)…hope that doesn’t seem too creepy from someone you don’t know but there’s something amazing about that kid that I can feel through your words. We’d get along well.

  13. July 23, 2010 1:33 am

    I love the river photos, especially. I felt cooler just looking at them. And your garden is very impressive!

  14. Chris permalink
    July 31, 2010 2:30 pm

    You need to enter the pic of your daughter in the bluebells in a contest! Seriously! It would win.

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I love hearing from you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s