Monday, June 29, 2009

NPR - Approaching Summer

It's the end of June. While summer has started, even with heat waves in almost every place in the US, it doesn't really start here in western Washington until the second week of July, after the Independence Day holiday. Around the 10th of the month or so. Then it quickly warms to the warmest period of the year, the last two weeks of the month when both the average for the highest high temperature and the highest low temperature peaks, the former around the 20-25th and the latter around the 25-31st.

After that, August 1st, its proverbially down hill. That's not always true but it's consistently true as August sees the greatest drop in average temperatures (highest, lowest, average) for any month of the year. By Labor Day we're back to June weather, only excepted by the occasional indian summer in mid-September to mid-October. In addition we average about 3 periods of 2-3 days a year over 90 degrees and 21 days over 80 degrees.

So living here is about the old adages about living without air conditioning, if you can survive, the last two weeks of July, you're home free for the year, more or less, meaning minus the occasional 2-3 days heat spells in August and early September, but by then the days are shorter and the evenings into night cool off faster, or so it seems. And once by mid-August, you can expect the possibility of cold temperatures, even at or below freezing, in the mountains.

What this also means is the worst time for hiking with pesky insects is mid-July into mid-August. Once the temperatures dip below 40 degrees and especially freezing, the insects are gone, or at least all but the few hardy ones who don't get going to late mornings and aren't much of a bother in the evening. But that also changes with the year.

Some years, the warm temperatures broke records for the temperatures, length of period - sometimes 3-5+ days, and the total number of days for the summer. And in some years we didn't break 80 degrees all summer. The same is similar for rainfall. July and August have about the same average rainfall, the minimium for us which is about one inch per month. In some years, it doubles or triples and the record for consecutive rainless days is 101 days, one entire summer.

So, what does all this mean? I'm a temperate climate person, meaning I thrive best in temperatures between 45 and 75 degrees. Anything colder and my body has issues, like joints. Anything warmer, say above 80 degrees and especially above 85 degrees and it shuts down. It's a rapid progressive fade from the high 70's, which physiologists say is the optimium range for physical activity, into the 90's, like falling off a cliff.

And especially days of 85+ degree days. It's my annual test for the average number of three periods of warm weather. The first one is a an adjustment, the second tolerance and the third impatience. The first hot period is where my body isn't ready and has to learn to just exist after the winter and spring cold and cool temperatures. The second is when my body knows and adjusts to survive through it.

But the third is the body simply being tired of it. Since these periods last 3-5 days, a warmup day followed by 2-3 days of warm to hot weather and then followed by 1-2 days of cooling but still warm weather. We forget during these periods everything gets hot and it takes a few days to cool off everything back to normal.

And those years we have longer periods are the worst. After the third day, my body simply quits altogether and I just get through them until the temperatures drop back below 80 degrees. And the record period we had of two weeks of warm weather and over a week of over 85-90 degree weather was simply what you think. I sat, barely did anything, and took a lot of naps.

This is because, like everyone's body, mine has adapted to the moderate weather. When I lived in Phoenix, yes I did live there for five years too, it took the first year to adjust and adapt and I was fine, even working and being active in 95+ degree weather. I always loved the mornings in the summer when it was 70-75 degrees, but hated it didn't stay there long once the sun rose in the sky.

And I actually learned to work in the remote deserts in the heat. I wasn't happy but I managed. Now approaching 60 this year, it's not the same anymore. The body and mind are slower, less tolerant of heat, and less forgiving of heat spells. It's just easier not to do anything that to do something. In a sense I get through, and occasionally do some things. Or at least try.

Ok, not much point here except venting about hot weather and getting old. Like folks in normally warm and hot places have any thought other than, "Awww." But as I've learned the two-plus decades I've lived there, at least around the summer heat waves, the weather and places is great, and we can go and do anything outdoors without it being too hot.

And why I continue to live there. A few weeks of uncomfortable weather in most years ain't so bad in the face of the rest of the time and place. I'll take it, and yes, even the occasional heat wave. There's not much else to do except accept it as part of life and living. In paradise of course. Mine anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment