As I write this article, the heat is still on, and it has been about as warm as I can remember.
By Walt Trandum
Living on the coast, we have probably suffered the very least as the sun continues to shine most days. That giant air conditioner called the Pacific Ocean has been a blessing.
All of the above set me to remembering the really hot, uncomfortable days I have experienced in my lifetime. Growing up in Seattle, we had a few uncomfortable days every year, but running through the hose water or dipping ones toes in a small stream gave some relief. Lake Washington was just down the hill, and while there were no organized beaches, we swam in old mill sites and any place else where we could dive in the water.
There are places in the state of Washington that are always warm and I recall a job that my brother and I had one summer working on the irrigation system being built by the Grand Coulee Dam. A contractor was laying six inch steel pipe across the desert to provide water for building the canals that would transport the water. The pipe came in on a rail car and couplers were welded on each end before it was loaded on a log truck. Our job was to roll those pipes off the truck and join them together. With the sun beating down and our only water being in a glass jug that quickly heated the water, it was miserable. I did go back many years later to see the huge fields that were growing many things that we take for granted every day.
When we left that job, we drove to the Wenatchee area and picked fruit for a few weeks. The only good thing there was the fact that we could find some shade. I always chuckle when I see every apple and all kinds of fruit each with a sticker telling just what species it is and where it came from. I don’t think those pickers of yesteryear would believe what they were seeing.
I spent a summer in a Navy training facility in Maryland and that was hot muggy atmosphere that I had never experienced before. The heat and the humidity were always near or above 100% and there was no air conditioning in the barracks or the class rooms. A fresh set of whites were quickly turned yellow as the days wore on. I remember walking the streets of Baltimore and seeing all the people sitting out on their porches looking for relief from the heat. Very few people or business places had the luxury of any kind of air conditioners other than what they called “swamp coolers’ that just added some humidity to the air and in cars slightly cooled it as you drove down the road.
Many years later, I was working as a salesman in Seattle when the company hired a fellow to provide us with some sales training and some inspirational information. Near the end of the session, the fellow gave us the following advice. He said that we should all look to buy a car and have air conditioning included, after all that was going to be our office during the day and arriving at a customer’s premises fresh from a cool place would give us an advantage in the sales program. Up until that time, there were few vehicles that had any kind of air conditioning and the best thing was driving with the windows down.
So now, today we have lots of hot weather and the fire danger and the actual fires that are burning are terrible. Hard to imagine the horror of losing everything you own to fire, and the agony of rebuilding your life after that kind of tragedy. I guess, the best we can do is accept the fact that these kinds of experiences have been going on for centuries. Mother Nature will bring back the flora and the fauna and the world will recover.
These days there are some pretty marvelous kinds of air conditioning units that are not very expensive. We have a combination air conditioner and heater that is ductless and occupies a small part of the wall in the living room. By just pushing a couple buttons, the room and, in fact, the whole house can be cooled, or heated, very quickly. As we hear about all the misery in other places, we sit and look out over that beautiful ocean and can bask in comfort and try to empathize with those who are suffering.
The events with the Hood to Coast marathon this year should serve as a reminder that Mother Nature is still in charge when it comes to weather and there is darn little that we can do about it!
Right on schedule, winter is rapidly coming upon us and we can get back to the rain and fog that makes this area so green and wonderful. The secret of a long life is to enjoy as many of those years as possible!