by Bea Garth
It’s hot. This morning it was still hot. Yesterday it was over 103 degrees here in the generally cool Los Gatos Hills not to speak of 101 degrees in San Jose.
I stopped at the cul-de-sac I manage in San Jose and Olivia told me this evening there is going to be a neighborhood street fair with a movie of Marilyn Monroe’s called “Some Like It Hot.” I may go there with a friend tonight if I am not still working on my ceramic sculpture and its not too unbearably hot.
I made sure I cooled off the studio last night. It was like an oven despite it being under trees and near a creek at the bottom of a hill. I opened a couple of windows and ran the fan all night and closed the windows this morning. And yes thankfully it had cooled down. I walked up the hill from the studio to the house and it seemed like it was at least 2:00 PM despite it being only 10:00 AM. I came up and closed the garage door and all the windows in my apartment and upstairs in my mother’s house. Fortunately I remembered to water the new garden last night before going out.
I plan to go for a swim pretty soon in our rustic pool. Just yesterday my 93 year old mother put in more pool shock. It was part of my campaign to get her to do something since otherwise she just sits even though she actually is very strong. We only had one bag left. I hope it was enough. The water was starting to turn green.
Heat. My brain fries. Yesterday I could hardly think. My head hurt and everything was miserable and blurry.
My eldest sister has a fever. I am letting her stay in my extra bedroom since she did not get along with our mother upstairs. I figured she needed a quiet place to heal with no stress and no trace glutens. She keeps drinking water like a parched fish. Her blood has an infection the doctors have as yet to determine what. She won’t take antibiotics until she knows. She is even more sensitive to drugs and foods than I am; this is my “marsy” sister that should have been an army sergeant. She has a heat rash over her whole body. She is so uncomfortable she wears no clothes. I bought bag balm to rub on her skin since she is allergic to everything else.
I remain considerate in spite of her hot, acerbic personality. Nevertheless I make a point of standing up for myself. This is my space after all. She is my guest and I make sure she behaves, like not bake her chicken in the middle of the day like she did yesterday ignoring the 103 degree weather!!
Nevertheless we somehow get along. Both of us want to not suffer needlessly. We have similar health concerns and have both transformed ourselves for the better overall despite the family trance that suggests its better to ignore our extreme celiac (i.e., no gluten) needs and other allergens and instead fit in with the conventional world. It helps to have an ally in her — and she thanks me for cluing her in on what all was actually going on concerning the celiac since her doctors did not help. I just have to get her to see that paying attention to emotions is important too if you want to get along. As it is, both of her (now adult) children have become further estranged from her plus she has difficulty doing business with others without alienating them with her frequent caustic comments.
Today despite the continued heat I feel OK. I just learned tomorrow may cool off. The heat reminds me nevertheless that I liked living in the desert. Just takes three days usually to really make the adjustment. I was born in the desert after all up in Walla Walla, Washington near the Columbia River.
Nothing seems regular or normal weather-wise here in the San Francisco Bay Area. We are having the beginning of a drought. Everything is overly dry. The woods here are one big tinderbox. I worry about all those dead Oak trees adding to the fuel. We need to do some drastic trimming back before its too late. But it is hard since there are over twenty acres and much benign neglect. Last year Lexington reservoir was down to being just mud practically. This year it should be even worse since once again we had very little rain this past winter.
Already there have been several fires in the Santa Cruz area (over the low mountains half an hour away). Smokey skies are becoming a way of life. Thankfully I have my air purifier.
I drove by a fire just last week on my way in to San Jose from Los Gatos. The flames were at least ten feet high if not higher next to the freeway near the Camden exit on Highway 17. Fortunately it was along a green strip with the Los Gatos Creek stopping it from crossing over to the homes on the other side. The sky quickly became filled with soot and the fading sun was bright orange through the hazy gray air.
Extremes abound even though here it is not as bad as elsewhere. In the Midwest there are all those floods and storms. The fiasco called Katrina seems not to be just some fluke. Some say that all this extreme weather is part of “Global Warming.” I don’t doubt it. The world is out of balance. It is our job to rectify it in our own lives as well as influence public policy.
On further reading of the news I discover that McCain wants to put in roughly 46 new atomic reactors in the U.S.A. as a way to stop increased Global warming. It would be pretty funny if it weren’t so tragic. The irony of his wanting to attack Iran for doing one fiftieth of this sort of activity cannot escape the discerning eye. I notice Bush is trying to make an ally of Russia to further his position against Iran. I pray we don’t have another meaningless war.
It makes me recall the infamous Green Run and how the US government experimented on the local population up in Eastern Washington by doing several releases or radioactive materials into the atmosphere from Hanford Nuclear Power Plant just to see what would happen to us back in the early 1950’s. This happened to me and my family since we were living in Walla Walla at the time. We didn’t move away to Bothell near Seattle until the end of the summer in 1952. I refuse to believe that nuclear reactors are safe and have no impact on our environment.
The sun itself of course is like a humongous reactor—one we get life from or become parched by or cooled off too much if our atmosphere becomes blocked from the sun’s rays — like what happened in the old Ice Age. Recently they discovered why—it was due to a titanic volcanic eruption in Indonesia that was so large its ash caused the weather to drop globally by at least 10 degrees for several hundred years. Many species died. Nature at this scale continues to amaze me. We are so intertwined in balance (or out of balance) with everything else. It stands in fact as a warning.
Our bodies themselves are formed by so much water carried about in our bag-like skin stretched over the armature of our skeleton. Its no wonder it takes a lot to adjust to heat and that we are so sensitive to it. Or that heat (or the absence of it) is so much a part of our mythology. We need to make good use of its signs. If we pay attention, it can become a forge in which we can purify our souls as we learn how to heal the planet. Taking heed of the signs and taking action is a much better plan than doing nothing like the poor dinosaurs who were unable to adjust to changing conditions except for a few lizards and birds who were tiny enough to survive.
Meanwhile my sister’s fever has finally gone down. It has been nearly a week. Maybe she won’t need antibiotics after all! I hear her moaning in the bathroom from the shock of entering a cool bath. Its hot today, but somehow we will survive.
Categories: personal essay by Bea Garth