Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Whenever I was slogging through another Hong Kong summer of rain, heat and humidity, I would wonder if Austin’s summers of triple digits day after day after day would seem better or worse. I found that first summer in Austin simply unbelievable. Missouri temperatures would occasionally rise into the 100’s, but it was usually a temporary, and unusual, occurrence. Not so in Austin. By late July the highs were consistently 100+ degrees, and stayed that way week after week. I remember walking across the mall parking lot on one of those days and thinking you could die out there amid the asphalt and cars shimmering in the intense heat. That was the word for it, intense.
Hong Kong summers were pretty nasty, but once the endless days of rain stopped, usually by the end of June, it wasn’t unbearable. The highs were in the low 90’s, and although the humidity usually matched the temperature, at least you could always go to the beach or the pool! And if you went to Central you could walk almost everywhere without ever going outside. The air conditioning in most places of business was cranked so high that you had to carry a sweater where-ever you went. Somehow it made me feel a little cooler to watch the Asians stroll purposefully down the street, looking cool and calm under the umbrellas they used to protect themselves from the sun.
The heat hit early this year in Austin. By mid-June we were already into triple-digit days. Even the natives were upset by this early onslaught of the worst of summer. We’ve had at least two weeks of this weather, and although today a “cold front” blew through, bringing some much needed rain and cooler temperatures, it’s temporary. The long-range forecast calls for more 100 degree days.
Every time I step outside in this weather I feel assaulted by the heat. I scurry into my air-conditioned car or house as fast I as possibly can. I’m still running of course, but even getting out the door before six only means I get to run when the temperature is in the high seventies, still very hot for long distances.
For some reason this weather has had me thinking of summers past. We never had air conditioning in St. Louis when I was growing up in the ‘50s. In fourth grade my parents finally got a window air conditioner and put it in their bedroom to make it easier to sleep. I remember the novelty of the cool air in their room, but it seemed like a luxury, not a necessity. And when I went off to college in 1970 the dorms were un-air-conditioned, as was every place I lived until I moved to Nashville in 1975. And I really don’t remember suffering very much or feeling uncomfortable. It’s pretty amazing how our bodies adapt to the weather. I feel like in the past five years I’ve become a complete wimp. I can no longer handle hot OR cold weather! I guess the only thing left for me to do is move to the Caribbean, or California! Ya think? :)