Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a matchhead

It’s 101F right now in my little corner of the world.  Nothing stirs outside.  No children’s voices, no neighbors mowing; nobody’s grill is lit, saturating the summer air with woodsmoke and the aroma of cooked meats.  Birds do not even sing in this heat. 

Only the cidacas seem to love it – their buzzing song has been going on since this morning. 

In the stillness the only sounds heard are the hum of air conditioners.  An occasional car drives by, windows tightly rolled up against the heat, the occupants probably driving from one air conditioned place to another.  Our house, like all the others, is shut up against the heat. Shades drawn, ceiling fans on, air conditioner set to a manageable temperature.   I cannot fathom the lives of my ancestors who toiled through summers without electricity, the women draped in too many layers of clothing for modesty’s sake. 

It makes me thankful for my relatively comfortable life here in the 21st century.

The tomato harvest is in full swing and every meal features this delectable fruit. Tomato salads with fresh mozerella and basil, sliced tomatoes with salt and pepper, tomato garnishes on everything.  Turning on the oven is unimaginable these days so cooking has become an exercise in cold foods only – cold salads, chilled fruit, and lots and lots of iced tea.

It’s the middle of summer, yet signs of the approaching fall are about.  Monarchs flit in the garden, preparing for their long sojourn to Mexico.  Birds are starting to gather in larger and larger groups.  I imagine them having meetings to decide who will join which group, and firming up their fall flight plans to all points south.  Night arrives earlier and earlier and morning preparations now require the lighting of a lamp.  School will be starting soon and store signs shout out their Back to School sales for clothes that seem too impossibly hot to wear in the current weather. 

In a few short weeks the first north winds will blow in.  Air conditioners will be turned off and windows will be thrown open, welcoming the relief from this summer heat.  Preparations for winter will ensue.  We will be reminded that there are only 3 more months left until Christmas and everyone will groan.

The cycle makes another revolution.


11 Responses to “Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a matchhead”

  1. 1 Simonne August 12, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    Oh this is wonderful – the sounds and smells are right with me. Seems like another planet to me right now. I’m holed at the laptop with my ugg boots on, CJ is at his desk next to me, working from home, wearing a woolen beanie and huge Explorer socks! It’s cooooold!!!
    Enjoy those ripe tomatoes OB! Yum!

    You need to read a book that takes place in the middle of the Amazon during the middle of summer. Just like I need to read on that takes place in Antarctica! Stay warm, Simonne! Spring’s coming to your neck of the planet soon!

  2. 2 poseidonsmuse August 12, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    What an absolutely gorgeous post. Your writing style is shaping into something magnificent OB. I really mean that…I particularly loved this line:

    “Birds are starting to gather in larger and larger groups. I imagine them having meetings to decide who will join which group, and firming up their fall flight plans to all points south.”

    Your writing style is fresh, descriptive and earthy like the first few rustlings of a fall breeze through autumn leaves…

    You know, I felt the cool crispness in the air today as the sun shone warmly on my back (living closer to the mountains means a slightly shorter summer, but days can be very warm…nights cool). I spent the day with friends, enjoying breakfast outdoors, and we commented on the slight change in leaf colour, the occurrence of morning frosts, our plans for fall, Thanksgiving and Hallowe-en…There is something very transient about this time of year. You touched on that aspect beautifully with your post. Good work!


    Oh Muse! What a lovely comment to start out my day. You have a way of making me feel quite content with my little self! I’ve noticed the leaves falling already – probably more out of lack of rain than anything, but still… I miss the mountains from my vacation! So wonderful to escape into cool shade during those hot days.

  3. 3 Anthony North August 13, 2007 at 3:49 am

    Hi OB,
    In my native Yorkshire the Summer is in full swing, too. I’m sat here, sleeves rolled up, the Sun breaking through cloud, smiling at me before the expected rain. Good grief, it’s nearly reached 70 degrees!
    Then I read your post. Now I feel hot, really hot, sizzling.
    I’m trying to capture Antarctica. I’ll cool down … eventually … I think …

    Oh to have 70 degree weather! I’m ready for fall (and some rain!)

  4. 4 Deb August 13, 2007 at 5:03 am

    Oh, I’m the crazy person who drives without her air conditioner on when it is 110! I love it hot (though humid isn’t all that great) and I always feel like summer is too short, and winter lasts the rest of the year.

    It was only in the 90’s on Friday, and I got on the bus to go up to NYC, and when I got there it was cold! They’re having weird weather in NYC lately.

    Beautifully written. I sometimes think about our ancestors too, and my conclusion (having lived places where siestas are alive and well) is that people got up early and got as much done before the heat of the day as possible, and spent a few hours in the shade, maybe taking a dip or two in a stream. Maybe their mid-day chore was to do the washing.

    My parents friends have a house in Tucson that was built so smartly that even in the middle of the summer (in the desert!) they rarely need to put on the air.

    Deb, the entire 16 years I lived in Austin I had no working AC in my car, and only lived in one place with central air. It was terribly hot, but eventually you get used to it. I can imagine you driving around in your car with the windows rolled down, a younger version of myself! We all need to take a lesson from the architect who designed your parent’s house – how wonderful to have a home so well-designed it rarely requires artificial cooling in the desert!

  5. 5 Red August 13, 2007 at 8:34 am

    Only 101? Pshhh! That’s coooold! :]
    I get it. Loved the post.
    I love fall. I hate the heat. I’m counting down the days until autumn approaches, the leaves change, the wind is cool and sweaters are necessary.

    I’m not a big fan of the heat either! I moved from TX back to the midwest and thought I’d get away from that shit! At least it’s not weeks and weeks of it, like down there. Fall is my season, for sure; love that hint of coolness in the air. I need to stop by your place today…

  6. 6 prisonmike August 13, 2007 at 11:14 am

    One of my favorite lines of all time comes to mind:
    “It’s so hot that this afternoon I saw a dog chasing a cat and they were both walking.”

    The A/C on the green truck has been out since it became warm. My SO is not happy. Neither am I. It needs a new compressor. But…you can’t just replace the compressor. You also need to replace the dryer, evacuate the system with a vacuum pump, recharge and balance the system. And, since I don’t trust anyone to work on my shit, I get to do all this myself. Good thing I got the tools, huh?

    BTW, the summer equivalent of TV reporters sticking the ruler in the snow is trying to fry an egg on the sidewalk. I haven’t seen that yet this year, though. There’s still heat coming though and I know the average reporter ain’t gettin no smarter, so let’s hope!

    I saw the egg on the sidewalk thing regarding the temps in Arizona a few weeks ago when they were in the midst of their ungodly heat (and I’m complaining about 101; a walk in the park to them, I’m sure.) Mikie, it’s too hot to be fixing shit anyway. Yeah, you’ve got the tools, baby! (HA! Like I know).

  7. 7 Bella August 13, 2007 at 11:15 am

    oh, your tomatoes sound lovely! I want some! My mom has a garden and I love to get her veggies 🙂 Hot here too in the midwest but finally cooled off today (a high in the low 80’s w/ little humidity) and we are totally enjoying it – your words are beautiful!

    Bella, I wish you were here. My parents have gone to France, leaving their harvest to us children. We can’t eat the tomatoes fast enough and I can’t give enough away. They still have that depression-era mentality – if a little’s good, a lot has to be better! I could can some, but can’t seem to bring myself to turn on the stove for any purpose whatsoever. If it can’t be heated up in the micro, it ain’t gettin’ heated up at all.

  8. 8 prisonmike August 13, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    It’s too hot even for a double entendre.

    So, so true.

  9. 9 poseidonsmuse August 13, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    Lol! I hope your parents are doing well OB! Hey, I just stopped by to see if anyone else is having trouble logging onto Grace’s blog…When I click on her site, I can see her post for a short second, then the whole site reverts to a “phishing” sort of organisation (adverts and stuff). I’m worried. Is there a blog virus going around or something? “Aahhhhh-chooo!” Excuse me….

    Yes, same problem. Grace, where are you??? Hope you haven’t been abducted by spambots! I think it’s just her site, though, as other Blogger stuff is still acessible.

  10. 10 Paul Baylay August 13, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    Lots and lots of iced cranberry juice…. with a touch of vodka. Best cure for any heat although might not work well in the morning…

    Damn it Paul, I must try your vodka & cranberry drink soon. Yes, very very soon.

  11. 11 writerchick August 14, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    It’s hot as heck here too. But I kind of like it. There is something in the air on a hot summer day that you just can’t get anywhere else or from any other source.

    Love your tomatoes while they’re there – like you said, soon you’ll be collecting pine cones and hanging ornaments.


    Yikes! So true. Then I’ll be complaining about the neverending cold weather!

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