Dog Days

July 1, 2009

Well, Al Gore may or may not be full of carbon offsets, but I’m telling you, boys and girls, its dadblamed hot.
   I don’t know where I stand on global warming, except in the shade of a good tree. I guess if you pinned me down, I would have to say I believe in sensible environmental policy, somewhere between Dick Cheney and Greenpeace. It may be that the earth warms and cools periodically, or it may be that humans have an impact on the environment…personally, I have no problem doing what we can do to make sure we don’t have an impact, but am reasonable enough not to expect such changes to happen overnight, rather, it’s a long process to remove ourselves from over a century of fossil fuel use. How’s that for skirting the razor’s edge?
   All I know is it’s hot.
   They say some kind of high-pressure whatchamacallit is hovering over us, but I don’t really give a jolly rip about the meteorological explanations. It’s just hot. We have conversations these days:
   “It wasn’t this hot when we were kids,” someone says.
   “Maybe we just tolerated it better, we were a lot younger.”
   “I don’t think so. I could play all day and sweat and turn red-faced but it never slowed me down.”
   “Maybe that’s why kids don’t go outside anymore. Maybe it’s not the television and the video games. Maybe it’s too hot for kids nowadays.”
   “Naw, it’s the video games. Got ‘em spoiled for the air conditioning.”
   “Why are we standing on a hot sidewalk discussing this?”
   “I dunno.”
   “Got Wii?”
   “Beer’s on me.”
   Maybe that’s it. We had one big window unit in the back of the house and while it made the temps bearable, I’d never lie so blatantly as to say it was cool in our house. We have central air at home now, and it runs from basically 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. without pause, taking a much-needed break at night.
   Bogie doesn’t like the heat either. He does his best to imitate a blue tick hound rather than a Labrador retriever: Lazes around, eyes half-closed, panting. I sympathize. In short pants and a T-shirt, I can’t image what it would be like to have a double-fur coat on.
   Consecutive 100-degree days must be some sort of record. I didn’t pay attention to temperature readings when I was a kid but I strongly suspect if we had 100 degrees day after day I would have never survived to adulthood.
   My bud and I used to fish from sunup to sundown and I don’t remember ever going home because it was too hot. In fact, the only time I remember such a bizarre thing happening was about five years ago. My cousin and I were fishing and catching on nearly every cast, and it was so miserably hot we actually picked up and went home, leaving ‘em biting. That’s hot, folks.
   Do you know that the first day we hit 100 degrees last week, the hottest spot in Nevada was 88 degrees? That’s insanity.
   These little thunderstorm squalls roll through and give us some relief. The first that came through, Suzie and I stood on the porch and cheered. Just makes the grass grow, that’s the only bad thing, and the lawnmower’s broke again. I started fixing it Sunday morning, but…well, yeah, it was just too dang hot, so I left it there, half reassembled. I started thinking to myself, “Even if I get this fixed, am I really going to go cut the yard in 100-degree temperatures?”
   Answer: Probably not. If I could stand 100-degree heat, I’d go fishing, grass cutting go to heck. So we put in a new ceiling fan in the living room instead.
   There isn’t much fishing, anyway. Buddy of mine and I went out to the salt Saturday and did pretty good, but the freshwater fishing is locked up tighter than a piece of energy legislation. Even my little ponds have gotten too hot and the bass just look at my flies and say, “You have got to be kidding me.”
   I wish I had planted trees when I moved into the house 10 years ago. Before Hurricane Andrew, the whole sunny side of the property was full of pecans and cedars, and nary a beam of sunlight ever touched the old shack. The storm took all of those out, and now the west slope is completely exposed. I planted last year, and figure it’ll be a decade before they do me any real good. I planted four red oaks and four sycamores. They’re doing quite well. I like the sycamores. Like a buddy and I agreed, “They talk to you.”
   So it’s July 1. Do you fathom the meaning there? Summer’s only just begun. I find myself looking at the weather maps online, dreamily — 78 in Oregon along the Deschutes River; 65 in Browning, Montana on Cutbank Creek. I wipe a bead of sweat off my brow and wonder how much my liquid assets amount to. Probably couldn’t relocate to Baldwin on my liquidity. The only liquid asset I possess is sweat glands.
   Sure is hot, ain’t it?