When the thermometer gets up to 110 degrees like it did today, I have quite a few thoughts. The first thought is to get up and at 'em as soon as it gets light or maybe even a bit before. So today, because it was predicted to be real hot, we are up and at 'em at 6 a.m. Noel Coward wrote a song and in it he stated “Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon day sun.” I’d rather not be categorized as either one, thank you very much. So let’s get all that dad-blamed work done before I turn into a mad dog!
First we add a shade screen over the chicken pen, give the chickens extra water and strategically place plastic milk jugs filled with frozen water so they can avail themselves of a cool place to rest. I also flood a large area in a shady spot in the run where they’ll go later on and scratch down to the cool dirt. All the horses and cows have shade and water. The dogs have shade and a small water-filled kiddie pool and the pup that will let me is shorn of his long fur. The garden gets an extra long drip. My husband is training a colt so he’s out there riding as soon as they’re done eating their hay.
We are done by 10 a.m. and then we shade up by the AC, which doesn’t work that great. It’s old and really needs to be replaced, but it’s costly and we’re on a start-up budget. By early afternoon, we can’t take being indoors any more so we look at each other and say in unison "The Lake!" As we leave through the front door, the blast of hot air hits us. I look at my husband and say, "Didn’t you know we live in the Mojave Desert?"
In weather like this, if I work outdoors for any length of time, I feel like ending it all within short order. I’m not accustomed to this. I don’t see how anyone can be accustomed to it. Maybe that’s why there are so few people in the desert. It was once a thriving metropolis but they all committed suicide because of the heat. I get cranky. Maybe they got cranky. I think is life worth living? The only reason why I don’t up and do it is because I’m too hot to move! Enough of that nonsense! My brain is addled.
When we’re not at the lake, I’m in a cold shower. When I’m in a cold shower, I think life is worth living after all. Life is just a bowl of cherries. And I can eat them, too. I’m not at all worried about the “ruttle” effect. “Ruttle” a term my daughter coined when she was very young. In the bath she looked at her hands and said, “Mommy, my hands are all ruttle-y”. Here’s what I say, “I love ruttles!”
As you can easily evaluate, I take this situation very seriously. So because we chose to live this life we have to find ways to cope. I think about our forefathers and mothers and wonder how did they cope without central air? In the recesses of my aging mind I remember the days before we had central air and it was quite beast-y. (Another daughter-coined term.) Can you imagine cooking in 110 degree heat in an indoor kitchen? I can and I shudder at the thought.
I guess it was probably a little bit better in the outdoor kitchen because at least there was a breeze. I guess any breeze is an improvement over no breeze at all. Can you imagine working your fields on a tractor without shade, much less cab AC, or behind a team of horses? Here's where the term "farmer tan" began. These were tough people, folks. Much tougher than you or I. Well, maybe you are tough, but I am not!
So while I go about my business, I give thanks for my less-than-stellar AC and my cold shower. Things could be worse. A lot worse.
Illustrations by the author, Renee-Lucie Benoit.