Kage Baker liked heat. Even when the weather got too hot, she liked it. She just made adjustments – changed to cotton and silk, turned on the fan, drank cold Coke for breakfast instead of coffee, pinned her yards of hair up – and soldiered on.
Anything below 50 degrees was sweater weather for her. Anything between 75 and 90 was shirtsleeve. She didn’t set about seeking coolth until I had usually melted into a whining puddle on the floor. Because after about 80 degrees, my system blows its zap and I start malfunctioning; sparks come out of my ears and I make scary grinding noises.
In our youth, these conditions applied anywhere but a Renaissance Faire. There, we could both run around like gazelles in triple-digit heat and 3 layers of wool and linen. We were sustained by iced chai and cold beer, and probably some weird thermal effect of industrial-strength sunscreen. Personally, I always felt I radiated a lot more heat from my bosom than my head – and my corset was designed to give me a broad expanse of radiator … it’s amazing what you can survive in comfort when you are young.
Of course, we were helped by the climate of California. Whether we lived in Los Angeles, Pismo Beach or the Bay Area, California tended toward the famous “dry heat”. Pismo exists in a near-constant Pacific wind, that makes even hot air feel like satin. I had no idea what a difference that made until we visited Texas, and Louisiana, and Missouri. I discovered then that I had NO conception of what humidity really was, nor how debilitating a damp atmosphere could be to those unaccustomed to the amphibious lifestyle.
Life may have started in what Darwin fondly imagined as “a warm little pool” – but it’s been a long, long time since that happened. My gill slits long ago converted into ear bones and jaws. All that happens now when the humidity rises is that I drown, slowly.
This is one of the gifts of climate change to California – increased atmospheric moisture. The weather people poetically call it “monsoonal”, which sounds romantic but actually means the air is like wet cling wrap. Dorothy Lamour and Sadie Thompson aren’t in it; no saris, no darling 1920’s hats, no singing choruses of wet Marines. It doesn’t cool anything down. It doesn’t have the decency to rain. In fact, it’s accompanied by thunderstorms – ordinarily rare here, but now a yearly phenomenon – that produce only a few hot fat drops of rain and tons of lightning strikes to start fires.
And that’s exacerbating the other local result of climate change: drought. We’re up to our ears in monsoonal moisture, but we have no rain. So the air is wet and the hills are dry, and fires spring up everywhere, every day. (I get emails from the Fire Department, advising me of 3 or 4 fires a day, in parks and empty lots.) Then the smoke mixes with the damp air and we get something like wet soot …
It makes me – surprise, Dear Readers! – cranky. It’s 88 degrees here right now, with 47% humidity – we’ve had rain storms with humidity that high! Honestly, that can happen in California; at least, it used to happen. Now, I’m expecting catfish to start fleeing the L.A. river. And it won’t surprise me if they’re already fried.
So, yeah, I don’t care for this new weather pattern. I could stand it a lot more easily if the damned monsoons would either go away, or decide to actually rain. I could deal with that.
Anyway, the last few days have left me a damp, sticky, testy mess. Hopefully, the weather will relent a little soon and I can successfully make my summer weather adjustment. Heat, I can manage. Rain, I can manage. Just please let the choking humidity blow out to sea and play monsoons with someone who knows how to deal with it!