Finally, the heat is on.
I never really learned to appreciate 100-degree plus Central Valley days until I spent a week in the Midwest in June.
When I boarded a plane in Sacramento for Champaign-Urbana I was dressed in OP shorts and a polo shirt. It was a pleasant 101 degrees with 20 percent humidity. I wasn’t even sweating.
It was a different story when I reached Illinois. Walking from the Piedmont Airlines jet to the terminal — a distance perhaps of 300 feet — I worked up a major sweat. It was 9 o’clock at night and right around 80 degrees. The humidity, though, was over 90 percent.
My first jog in Illinois was the next morning shortly after dawn. Everything was fine until about five minutes into the jog when my lungs started burning.
It was an interesting week. Early on a Sunday morning just an hour after taking a shower, we were on a riverboat outside of Hannibal and the sweat starting pouring off me even though I was in the shade. There was a couple sitting nearby. I was embarrassed about my perspiration and they could tell. I apologized and the husband simply said “you never get used to it,” adding that they were from New Orleans and had lived there for 10 years.
That was when I vowed never to complain about California heat again — even when it reached 111 degrees as Accuweather predicted it would reach Saturday before knocking off a few degrees to 108 in their revised forecast.
Actually after you hit 100 degrees, there isn’t much difference between 108 and 111 degrees. You couldn’t tell that, though from the way we talk about it. Each jump of a degree invokes images of immense suffering and heat.
We all like to recall the hottest day we ever experienced.
For me it was in the mid-1960s in Placer County when it reached 117 degrees. Even with rice fields to the west of Lincoln, it wasn’t muggy. I don’t recall the day as being excessively hot or uncomfortable. It was just like every other summer day but just a few degrees hotter.
While heat can be deadly and can cause serious illness an argument can be made that the discomfort some us experience is because we don’t even try to adapt to the heat.
I learned that the hard way when I was 19.
It was in August and I had driven to Yuba City wearing a suit and tie to pick up an ad for the now defunct Wheatland News. It was 102 degrees. I drove there in my 1967 Cougar with the air conditioning going full blast. I parked right in front of the building, walked in to the air conditioned foyer and was promptly ushered into the office of the gentleman I was there to see and was told he would be a few minutes. This was back in the days before electricity cost a king’s ransom. A few minutes later the secretary came in and said her boss was delayed. I commented on how cold it was and she said the boss liked it that way as he kept the thermostat down to 65 degrees.
After a half hour I met the gentleman, got the ad and was on my way. Since my car had been sitting with the windows up for a half hour, it was easily 130 degrees inside.
After about a half mile I started getting nauseous, pulled over and thankfully hurled instead of passing out. That’s when I learned the hard way about having your body exposed to a 65 degree temperature swing in just a few minutes wasn’t healthy.
It was the reason why to this day I use air conditioning at home and in the SUV sparingly, if at all. I still have yet to turn my home air conditioning on this year preferring using numerous ceiling fans and open windows.
My favorite summer vice is on a night when the temperatures hover in the mid-60-degree range is to go out in the backyard and sleep on a chaise lounge. There’s something wonderfully decadent about sleeping outside with blankets to protect you from the cool Delta breezes.
It ranks right up there with going for a jog just as the heat of the day hits. It sounds borderline crazy but it is an incredible feeling to work up a sweat while taking in the sights of summer.
It’s much more enjoyable to embrace summer instead of fighting it.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-249-3519.