Oh my God was it hot last weekend! I’m not talking about above average New England temperatures either. I’m referring to heat and humidity that felt biblical, made you wilt, and made you feel like your body was melting.
The talking heads warned us it was coming, and for once they got it right. Warnings of dangerous heat and humidity plastered the airwaves on Tuesday, and they amped up the volume during the subsequent days. Friday came and, as predicted, the heat steadily grew throughout the day, but that was simply a dress rehearsal for what came next.
When I went outside early Saturday morning to check the pool chemicals my body felt like it was shrouded in a hot, moist shroud, and this was at 7:30! It seemed like every pore in my body started leaking, and I’m not the type of person who perspires at the drop of a hat.
Under normal circumstances, the weather would make any sane person stay indoors and do as little as possible until the heat broke, but with an imminent move on the horizon as progress on the new house rolls on, sanity took a back seat.
To give you an idea of how oppressively hot it was, the heat index was around 115 Saturday. I don’t think it was quite as humid on Sunday, but we’re splitting hairs, and as we returned home from the job site at 8pm Sunday evening, the outdoor temperature was 87 degrees. Are you kidding me?!
What is it about oppressive heat and home construction? When we built our first house in 1997, we lived in Southern Indiana (Evansville), which by far is the hottest place I have ever endured. Completely landlocked in the southern tier of the country, the heat had nowhere it go. Temperatures were routinely in the 80s and 90 with humidity to match, and it was hotter at 7pm than it was at 3pm.
How hot was Evansville? One day in July I took a day off to help clean up the construction site. Arriving there at 7:30 in the morning, I brought three gallons of Gatorade with me to consume so I wouldn’t cramp up or pass out. Between the time I arrived and 2:30 in the afternoon, when it simply became too hot to continue, I had consumed all of the Gatorade and peed only once during those seven hours. My clothes looked like I showered in them, and the dust from the site had caked onto my exposed skin.
That is what was last weekend was like. It felt like walking into and living inside a roaring furnace that got hotter as the day got longer.
Of course, I was 23 three years younger back then and didn’t have MS, and I still felt miserable that evening. I wasn’t foolish enough to push myself like that this past weekend, but I know I was still outside more than I should have been.
On Saturday, we helped my nephew remove and pack some furniture, file cabinets and tools that we no longer needed into a large van, then organized the garage a little to create more room to maneuver given the new open space. The pool was a godsend, and I jumped into that sucker a number of times during the day. Perhaps that is why the heat’s full effect didn’t arrive until later that evening, when a wave of fatigue I hadn’t experienced in a long time consumed me.
Knowing I over-exerted myself, Sunday was going to be a day spent inside. That lasted until early afternoon, as one can only stay cooped up for so long. Cabin fever compelled me to put on the swim trunks, open the deck umbrella, and take turns reading and jumping into the pool to cool off. Cooling is a relative term, because the water temperature was 90, having increased three degrees in less than twenty four hours. Still, it was blissful by comparison. Any relief the pool offered was short-lived, however, because within five minutes of leaving the pool, not having bothered to dry off, I’d erupt in more perspiration. Within ten minutes I’d once again feel like I was baking from the inside out, so back into the pool I’d go. This routine lasted for maybe an hour an a half, when the process became more annoying than refreshing.
Unfortunately, one task to do at the construction site remained. A Chickadee had decided several weeks prior to build a nest in what turned out to be an ingeniously difficult spot to get to in the corner of the garage. For weeks, we’d hear the chirps of baby birds asking for their momma, and watch her dutifully fly in an out of their lair to feed and attend to them. As the sheetrock went up, nobody wanted to touch them, and we certainly didn’t want to entomb them. Assuming it would not be long until they flew the coop, we left that part of the garage open.
Well, it turned out last weekend was the time the coop was flown, either because they were full grown or it was too hot to stay put. I wanted leave the nest where it was and sheetrock over the remaining open space, but was vetoed by K. So we brought a ladder to the site after seven, and up I climbed to see if I could exhume the damn thing.
This nest was tucked between two 2x4s, and the entrance to it was a sliver of a triangle, at least eleven feet up in the rafters. I gingerly made it up each rung while K dutifully held the ladder. I had some long, heavy duty tweezers, and methodically pulled pieces of the nest out of its shelter.
It was hot and nasty up there. The air was still, heavy and dense. I’m not sure how long it took, but after removing what I felt was almost three-quarters of the thing, pulling out a variety of twigs, straw and plastic with each tweezer-grab, I had to stop because I was getting light-headed and started to feel a little queasy. Getting down the ladder was hard. K had to help by literally grabbing the ankle of my bad leg and guiding it to the next step down. Once I landed on terra firma my legs felt like jelly and my body felt like a limp dishrag. Remember, the air temp was 87 at the time, but it had to be at least another five to ten degrees hotter up in those rafters.
I shuffled over to the car, not able to lift either foot off the ground, shed my sodden clothes once we arrived home, slowly and carefully made my way upstairs to take a cool shower, then collapsed onto the bed, where I didn’t move for two hours. I felt a lot better after that, and was able to use my legs again.
I was a little surprised at how my body reacted because I actually did more physical work the previous day in higher heat and humidity, but suspect this reaction was more of an accumulation of the weekend’s events. I pushed myself to see how far I could go and what I could endure.
I wasn’t sure what Monday morning would bring, but it wasn’t any more difficult than a typical morning, so the heat’s impact didn’t linger into the next day. I could sit here and vow to never do that again, but that would be a lie. Stuff has got to get done if we want to move before Labor Day, so while I will try to be smart about my approach, I know the limits will once again be pushed if the situation calls for it.
Hopefully we won’t have a repeat of this past weekend’s oppressive heat. Storms rolled through the area on Monday and into Tuesday to wring all the moisture out of the air. Temps will revert to the upper 80s and low 90’s over the next ten days, which is hot by Connecticut standards, but sounds like Nirvana compared to what just occurred. It actually feels pleasant outside today by comparison.
It would be nice if last weekend turned out to be the worst this summer has to offer but I’m not banking on the idea that we aren’t going to experience another round of excessive heat.
That would be too convenient.