Sunday, July 8, 2012

Heat Wave

The sun is rising.  Its Sunday morning.  In a few hours we will be taking Mom to church.  Its her birthday and she will be 79.  She is mostly gray haired now, a fact debated by my brothers and sister, as to choice, and increasingly frail, her arms no more than sticks.  She seems fragile to me for someone 79, as she moves very carefully, but still drives and still insists she can do what she wants.

We have survived, (at least for now), another heat wave.  Two straight weeks of 90+ temps here in the Saginaw Valley have left everyone on edge and testy with each other.  The eastern half of the Nation is suffering this heat wave, so Michigan is not alone, but temperatures topping 100 degrees and plus is not something we have known here in my lifetime.  Annie in Nashville has seen temps of over 108 degrees and that is the case all through the South.  The old song, We're Having a Heat Wave has new meaning now. 

With the usual Walter flair for timing, (mostly bad), my sister and her family visited in the first week of the heat wave.  They came from Colorado where while it is dry was much cooler.  Normally they try to plan their every-other-year visits home to coincide with my other brother's trips home from Delaware, as that's the only time they will see each other.  It didn't work out this year, so Kerri, Paul and Zac arrived in Michigan via their Dodge truck and 5th wheel RV, camping along the way and visiting the western side of the state before heading to the sunrise.  It was still June when they arrived and of course, it was the first of our 90+ degree days in a row. 

Wildfires were raging near their home city of Colorado Springs, so they were desperate for news and internet connections to view the devastation. They visited nephews on the way in, and were actually only at Mom's for a brief few days, something we are all aware at this point in her life.  Our mom does not like change any longer and prefers to live quietly with really and truly, life's simple pleasures, her companions.  It often seems very lonely to me, and more often seems devoid of joy, but I guess that is a relative term as joy is something perhaps for the young who have not the wisdom earned to realize lasting contentment.  Some days I think I have it figured out and others, I don't have a clue.

Kerri and her family left on one of the "cool" days of the two week purge where the thermometer only went to 92 degrees.  My brother, Chris and his family arrived from the other direction, two days later, in the next start of intense heat on Sunday night.  Kurt and I had made a bet to see if we could keep the AC off in our house through the month of June.  That seemed like a fairly easy thing to do at the time, as June is not usually a month where air conditioning is a must, except for this year.  But we found surprisingly, that we could open windows wide at night and have the house cool off enough to then close the windows in the mornings and have the house stay comfortable all day.  We are blessed with trees surrounding the house and a garage that stays cool on the west side of the house.  But what seemed comfortable to us was stretched when we had a cookout over here for Kerri and her family before they left.  With more people in the house and a day of heating, the house was warm to most who were here, and I was labeled stubborn in the mode of my mom by many of my family.  But that was June and by July I had to contemplate at least, turning on the air conditioning.

Chris and family stopped by unexpectedly on a Monday when the temps were heading to record highs, though they hadn't gotten there quite yet.  They complained as everyone had about the heat and how bad it was here.  Of course, it was going to be that hot in Delaware, but we weren't going to argue the fact with them right then. 

We spent the 4th of July at Ryan and Alison's lake house.  The neighborhood on the lake does a pig roast that feeds friends, neighbors and relatives, but this year the thermometer heading to a record breaking 102 degrees, had us all eating and heading to air conditioning even in cottages that had never known the term.  The 4th of July was the first really uncomfortable night we spent with fans running on every side of the bed and the air cooling outside to only 75 degrees during the night.  We broke down on Thursday and cranked on the air.  It didn't seem to help much.  We cleaned beach next to the pond and actually got on the floats we hadn't used in two years and we were suspended in water that was as warm as a winter bath.  Along with the hot temps had arrived the humidity and air that had no breath.

Friday saw the last really hot day of the heat cycle.  It was a day much like the previous and won't stand out in memory, (I hope), for more than the cycle of the record setting heat wave.  Saturday had us glad, for once we lived on the sunrise side of the state and could enjoy a cooling breeze from the northeast across Saginaw Bay.  The southern part of Michigan still sweltered under the heat for another day of near 100 degrees.  We topped out at 85 here. 

This morning I got up to watch the sunrise, sitting on my front porch.  I contemplated my mom turning 79, and inevitably her mortality and life in the coming year.  I looked across the fields to a new large barn being built on Roosevelt Road and wondering if there would be horses at the place that had installed fencing last fall.   I liked having the changes to landscape that needs a reason to change and stay current.  I love the country and my neighborhood, but I now realize it can't remain stagnant.  That's a good thing and one I want to really remember, when I feel time speeding by me. 

My niece is a senior in high school.  She's never heard of VISTA or what the Peace Corps once did.  We need to do a better job as a Nation to teach this generation's children of what we once were and what we can become.  We survived the heat wave, at least for now.  This might be labeled the summer of the tropics and another way to test our Nation's mettle.  I hope we pass...

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