Kage Baker had a favourite solution to intractable heat: go to the movies, and sit in the dark eating ice cream for 3 hours. As she was rarely actually too hot, and was always ready to eat ice cream and watch some handsome man or scenery, this was always a notable success. We even saw some movies we would not otherwise have dreamed of watching.
For this to work for me, though, I’d have to take up residence in the movie theatre. In the ice cream bin, probably. This idea has its charms, but isn’t really practical. Ice cream is so sticky …
Kage’s second most popular remedy was to drive North. Mind you, we never got farther North than Petaluma at our most adventurous – and the difference between the Bay Area and Los Angeles is not always noticeable in the summer. But Kage, despite having spent many summer days in 3-digit heat in Marin, was stubbornly convinced that going North equaled getting colder. Which it does, if you go far enough and at the right time of year … nonetheless, evacuating North seemed to cool her down.Maybe by direct heat convection, or the power of Kage’s mind to browbeat physics into doing what she wanted.
It worked often enough to maintain her faith in the technique, anyway. And it has been so unnaturally, damnably hot in LA this summer that I have been willing to try just about anything …
To my great good fortune, some wonderful friends of mine live in Berkeley and left on vacation this morning – and asked me to house-sit and entertain their lovely cat while they were gone. I’m not sure I’m actually needed, but they were kind enough to offer me shelter from the heat and some primo anchorite-style writing time: and I leaped at the opportunity. It’s quiet, I’m alone (except for the cat, who is very sympathetic) and when I got here this afternoon, it was nearly 30 degrees cooler than Los Angeles.
I am in bliss. They left me a red rose on the dining room table, and a raspberry tart in the kitchen. The cat is happily asleep in my shoes. I even remembered to pack my writing cap.
The drive up was easy and comfortable, inside my air-conditioned car; the heat on the I-5 hit 100 for most of the way up, though. There was only 1 small herd of cotton bale glaciers – not enough water this year for the usual crop. Many ordinarily green fields stand brown and fallow, or planted in some tough soil cover that doesn’t need irrigation. All the English walnut groves have been replaced with drought-tolerant pistachios, and the vineyards have covered their grapes with shade cloth in the hopes of producing wine instead of instant raisins. The hills are bleached bone-white; they are as covered with wild oats as ever, but they look like marble quarries from a distance – like nothing living.
A scary season, in the Salad Bowl of America.
Which is why I fled North this morning, and have been offering grateful prayers to all the gods of going as I journeyed. I could see fog beginning to evolve on the Marin Highlands as I came up the 580 through Oakland. It was like watching the ramparts of Elfland coming into focus. And it was cooooool.
Kage’s strangest ideas have this habit of turning out true …