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It’s no sweat to stay cool in valley summer

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POSTED May 18, 2009 12:46 a.m.

Sweating is highly underrated.

It sounds crazy, but to understand it you have to be a real valley boy.

Going for a four-mile jog at 1 o’clock in the 100-degree heat Sunday I worked up a decent sweat. It wasn’t until I got home, though, and pulled up a patio chair underneath the crab apple tree and just let it drip that I remembered what I like so much about Central Valley summers. There is no feeling as cool as taking refuge under a shade tree while drenched in sweat and having a slight warm breeze flow across your skin. It creates coolness that air conditioning or swimming can’t match.

As your body cools you get a slight chill. It’s made all the sweeter by the slight rustle of the leaves as Mother Nature fans the valley.

It was the best way to cool off as a kid after cutting the lawn, playing war, or playing baseball in the lot adjacent to the parish hall. It always seemed a lot cooler than when we’d hit Doty’s Ravine – a large pond hidden among scrub and valley oaks that was fed by the Nevada Irrigation District canals in the foothills just east of Lincoln.

We often spend so much time trying to escape the heat that we fail to embrace it.

It was 105 degrees on Sunday in Manteca. It was hot for sure but not insufferable. The humidity was 11 percent. Try enjoying a day in the Midwest in June where it is 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity. You drip but never dry.

In the Central Valley the dripping eventually stops as sweat cools your body core. It doesn’t seem nearly as hot as you first thought after you’ve finished a good sweat.

I’m not exactly anti air-conditioning although you won’t see me using it when I’m at home. Just give me ventilation and a slight breeze – from Mother Nature or a fan – and I’m set.

It’s not that I’m cheap although I don’t mind having PG&E bills right around $25 a month.

We often spend so much time seeking shelter from the elements and let that effort dictate the perimeters of our day that we forget we can adapt to them as well.

Making a choice between napping in an air conditioned house on a 100-degree day and catching 20 winks outside under a tree is easy. You wake up more refreshed when you come to with a natural breeze instead of air that’s been chilled inside a shuttered box.

It’s hard not to love the valley and its weather that runs the gamut from the refrigerator cold and eerie silence of Tule fog, to the reawakening warmth of spring, and the slight chilling that comes as autumn draws to a close.

Summer, though, offers endless possibilities whether it is a walk at twilight as the Delta breezes kick in or enjoying a morning where a low of 65 degrees greets you at sunrise.

It is also the only time of year there is a true reward that accompanies sweating.

Work up a sweat in winter when it is 50 degrees and you can’t enjoy it for fear of getting ammonia. Late fall and early spring are rarely warm enough to gain much pleasure from sweating.

Late spring to early fall is another story.  Sweating after working hard or working out does exactly what it was intended to do in cooling you down with the added bonus of making you feel good.

Over the years more than a few people who have moved to the valley from the San Francisco Bay Area have equated the summers in the 400-mile long basin from Redding to Bakersfield as the earthly equivalent of Hades.

You can’t blame them if you are used to going to The City in August and having to take along a sweater or a jacket just in case it gets too cold.

Unfortunately, that attitude blinds them to the fact they have moved to a true Mediterranean -style climate.

Once you embrace it you’ll never leave it.

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