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Sweet summer sweat: Embrace the heat instead of fighting it

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POSTED June 19, 2017 1:28 a.m.

Back in August of 1965 when the mercury in Lincoln flirted with 120 degrees after several back-to-back 115 degree days I was complaining to my grandmother about the heat as only a 9-year-old can.

We were in her house that lacked insulation or air conditioning. The only concession to the heat wave was a small electric fan and a swamp-style cooler placed on a stand that you’d occasionally pour a glass of water into.

“It doesn’t make much difference whether it’s 100 or 115,” she told me after I moaned as I parroted radio reports that the high was at 115 degrees and closing in on 118 degrees. “You need to embrace it because you can’t fight it.”

I thought she was crazy.

It took me a few years — closer to 10 to be exact — before I finally got what my grandmother was talking about. Going from a sealed air conditioned box at 72 degrees into the 100 degree heat to get into a car that’s been locked where the temperature is 150 degrees or higher, cooling down to 80 degrees and then stepping out into the 100 degree heat again to head toward a building kept at 72 degrees is the real insanity.

Not that pushing things to the point you get heat stroke is any less sane which I did on one scary bicycling trip just north of Oroville heading to Chico from Lincoln after running out of water on a 103-degree June day.

But if you find a way to live with the heat and being smart about it you can be a lot less miserable.

It is doubtful Mother Nature meant for our bodies to go from temperatures at 72 degrees to 100 degrees to 150 degrees down to 100 degrees and back to 72 degrees all within 20 minutes and then repeat that process throughout the day.

My grandmother Edna Towle was no stranger to heat. Before moving into Lincoln during World War II, she raised a family and ran a working cattle ranch by herself in the Nevada County foothills after her husband hit the road near the start of the Great Depression. There was no air conditioning as there was no electricity. Instead people adapted. They planted trees not for looks but to provide cooling shade. Summer porches that doubled as screened in sleeping areas took advantage of the cooling night breezes.

I still remember as a kid sleeping outside on a chaise lounge in the backyard after a day of 100 degree heat having to snuggle under a blanket in the hour before dawn because I was cold. You woke up as the heat warmed up.

On Sunday I headed out for my jog just a few minutes after high noon when the temperature was 99 degrees. I started sweating a lot earlier than normal. As I passed briefly under the shade of trees along Wellington Avenue I savored the pleasantness of the air temperature dipping 10 degrees for a brief few seconds. The hot breeze when I turned north to run along Atherton Drive brought a different type of relief as it combined with my sweat to send a slight chill down my spine.

The real cool down treat waited at home. The heat misery starts spiking for a moment the second you stop running as the lack of movement robs you of air circulation. That meant as I walked to the kitchen door underneath the carport, I started to drip non-stop.

I do not turn on the air conditioning at home but instead rely on plenty of oversized ceiling fans and open windows. If not I would be inviting my body to edge toward an ill reaction and possibly induce a headache from an instant 30 to 40 degree temperature drop. That’s not saying I wasn’t uncomfortable. But less than a minute later after shucking everything including socks I was standing on the stone floor of my bathroom enjoying one of life’s little rewards — cooling down naturally.

I stopped counting the drips of sweat at 200. The puddle on the stone floor was still growing but by then my body was drenched in sweat from the top of my head to the souls of my feet. It is hard to describe the feeling but it is absolute nirvana. Day & Night, Carrier, and all other air conditioning manufacturers can’t replicate the cool feel of sweating lowering your body temperature. How could they? Mother Nature knows how to keep you cool. Turn her system up to high and it will reward you 10 times more than air conditioning without enhancing PG&E’s bottom line.

It helps, of course, to rev up the hydration via water.

The benefits of cooling down your core naturally and adopting to the heat instead of fighting it continues through the day as the temperatures rise making the heat much more tolerable.

Conditioning for — and then embracing — the heat makes much more sense than treating it as if it were an aberration of nature.



This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209.249.3519.

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