Heatwave

Seattle 2008 027_edited

The thermometer in the northwest of the U.S. has nudged (and sometimes tipped over) the 100F mark for the past few days now.

As an Aussie girl yearning for a ‘real’ summer’s day, I was equally thrilled (It’s hot!) and amused (Will the people here please stop freaking out?) when I saw the forecast.

But you see, Seattle is equipped for the cold, not the heat.  Our apartment, with its two tiny windows in the living room, has central heating, but no air-conditioning.

We are on the bottom floor and face north, so our place cooler than most other apartments in this building, but there is no air movement.  If I cook for more than a few minutes, it gets very hot in here.

“We are eating only raw food for the next few days,” I informed Ben.  He rarely complains about anything, and this revelation was no exception.  I think he is just thrilled that I am willing to prepare dinner at all – cooked or raw.

Sleeping has presented its own problems.  Two nights ago was the hottest night on record in Seattle – 71F/21C, which is very warm when you’re trying to sleep.

In my last apartment in Sydney, I had many windows.  On a night like that I would have thrown them all open, and enjoyed a cooling sea breeze throughout the night.  Not here.

Here we sleep under only a sheet, with a giant fan blowing on us.  We sleep perfectly still to avoid the chance of touching or generating any superfluous body heat.

And you cannot buy a fan or air-conditioner in the entire north-west at the moment.  Sold out!

Yesterday Ben and I were out in search of a salad spinner (so my life would be complete).  We got our salad spinner (and my life IS complete), but as we left the store, a man pulled up in a car, leaned  out the window and asked a staff member, “Do you have any fans?”  “Nope,” was the heart-breaking reply.

“Really?” an incredulous Ben asked me.  “I know this is unusually hot weather, but it gets warm here.  Don’t people have fans anyway?”  It’s a good point.  We have been sleeping with a fan on all summer.

“You know, we have two fans,” he continued.  “I bet we could sell one for $100 right now.”   When we got back to the car, the thermometer read ‘104’.  “I think we should keep the fan,” I countered.

Forecasters predicted that yesterday would be the hottest day in Seattle’s recorded history.  They were right.  While we were buying a salad spinner, the city of Seattle was suffering.  It is not used to the heat, it is not built for heat, and it is ill-equipped when a wave of it hits.

Malls, cinemas, and parks with wading pools are bursting at the seams.  Restaurant takings have gone through the roof in recent days.  People are showing up to work early and staying late, because most people here do not have air-conditioning at home.

Having said all that, I write this from the coolness of our apartment while outside it is 91F/33C.  If we keep the blinds closed, the fans on, and the cooking to a minimum, we can keep it cool in here so sleep comes easier.  A salad for dinner tonight, methinks.

So, the cynic is silenced.

Yes, it is hot, even for an Aussie girl.

Finally, I am reminded of a favorite poem by Shel Silverstein.  Enjoy.

It’s Hot!
It’s hot!
I can’t get cool,
I’ve drunk a quart of lemonade,
I think I’ll take my shoes off
And sit around in the shade.

It’s hot!
My back is sticky,
The sweat rolls down my chin.
I think I’ll take my clothes off
And sit around in my skin.

It’s hot!
I’ve tried with ‘lectric fans,
And pools and ice cream cones.
I think I’ll take my skin off
And sit around in my bones.

It’s still hot!

Pwerhouse Museum collection

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