For a whole lot of reasons, I was fully expecting to be thrilled right about now—solidly into the next-to-the-last month of the year.
Not only is it finally time for flannel sheets and breaking in my new Lanz of Salzburg nightgown, it means wearing an array of soft hoodies, leggings and boots. November is when my birthday happens, too, and then there’s Thanksgiving. Of course, that Thursday is the ultimate foodie delight, which is one of the many reasons it’s my favorite holiday.
But most especially, there’s another thing I’m supposed to really happy about while looking at today’s date.
The weather should be cooler.
Except for this: it hasn’t been, and in the near future, looks like it isn’t going to be.
Specifically, a lot of crazy, super-hot days assaulted our sweet beach town in October. I’d counted on this 100-degrees-multiple-times pattern ending by now, but… no. Yes, we’ve had a few pleasant days, but nothing close to wintery cold, which for us is somewhere in the high 50s during the day, and mid-30s at night.
Thinking about it, I’ve worn neither my heavy duty parka nor lighter weight jacket for a while now. Another fact: during the last week of last month, the city 10 minutes away from us hit the national record as the hottest place in the entire country, at a staggering 108 degrees. (We clocked in at three degrees below that.)
Of course, heat waves are yawningly ho-hum for those who live in the desert and other areas where three-digit summertime temperatures have long been a given.
But this is a region of California where these kinds of numbers are pretty much unheard of—illustrated by a friend who attended college here in the 1980s.
In 1987, during the first week of October, the neighboring city mentioned above was the warmest location in the nation, with 111 degree temperatures recorded at the airport two days in a row. This occurrence was thought to be so bizarre and so extraordinary that it made the front page in our daily newspaper. Indeed, most of us who’ve lived here for a while remember what used to be the norm: a place where a blanket of coastal fog rolled in every morning from our bay, and air conditioners, not to mention swamp coolers, simply weren’t seen. This is further demonstrated when visitors find out that most houses, mine included, don’t boast a single ceiling fan.
Does this steady heat have anything to do with global warming?
If I had to guess, I’d say—uh, yeah, absolutely.
Since knowledge is power, that’s good to know. Still, it doesn’t solve the day-to-day dilemma of how to best cope with weeks that not very long ago, used to be 40 degrees cooler.
As it turns out, lots and lots of people don’t do well when they’re hot and bothered.
One consequence of triple digit temperatures is heat exhaustion, which can, literally, overpower our bodies. This condition brings dizziness, headaches and fainting; thank goodness, it can usually be treated with rest, a cool environment and drinking hydrating liquids. But heat stroke—symptoms here include high body temperature, confusion and even unconsciousness—is more serious and requires medical intervention. To illustrate the significance of prolonged heat, the 1995 heat wave in Chicago sent close to 3,500 people to hospital emergency rooms, and nearly 700 died.
Thankfully, days and days of unrelenting sunshine don’t usually mean a visit to the doctor.
But high temperatures can make us crabby—really, really crabby.
According to a 2012 CBS News story, a 2001 paper by University of Iowa professor Craig Anderson concluded that there are 2.6 percent more murders and assaults in the United States in the summer than in winter. Anderson also wrote that “hot summers produce a bigger increase in violence than cooler summers.”
Another study, this one from 2010 that focuses on violence in Cleveland, states that higher temperatures correlate to higher amounts of “aggressive crime”—including domestic violence and assaults that involve no weapons or serious injury. The CBS story goes on to quote former New York City cop Eugene O’Donnell, who says that when he was on the beat, a favorite saying was, “Jack Frost is the best policeman.”
For me, the answer to feeling better is simply this: be a cockeyed optimist.
I know that sooner or later, I’ll be wearing my favorite heavy hoodies again. So with this determined mindset, I plan to hang in the coolest places I can find; look for new dinner salad recipes, and search for images of vintage winter wonderlands on my home computer.
As a friend says, “I just want November weather in November!”
I couldn’t agree more.
What about you: how do you cope with heat? I look forward to your stories and comments!
P.S. Watch the effects of unrelenting heat in a riveting episode from the television classic The Twilight Zone.
In 1961’sThe Midnight Sun, the Earth has fallen out of orbit and is spinning increasingly closer to the sun.
As temperatures soar, reaching beyond 120 degrees, two women try to cope in a nearly abandoned New York City.
The entire show is here, at www.dailymotion.com/video/x2ee3q9.