05 July 2012

Weather . . . or not

What would we complain about if not for the weather? 
For the past two weeks the temperature has remained above 90 degrees, and during this first full week of July the temperature has topped the scales at 99o Fahrenheit. I suppose that since the advent of air conditioning the ability of people to function in heat has declined precipitously. Once there was no choice but to tolerate the atmospheric conditions, and during the hot days of summer, to walk and work more slowly, I suppose. I remember during one summer being employed in a document retrieval facility; in days before computers et al., companies would send their important documents for storage to big warehouse-like facilities, and when they required a certain document they would send in an order and a worker (like myself) would retrieve it from its carefully noted location: floor, shelf, box number. It was very warm on the upper floors, and we tended to move very slowly: the customer was charged by the time spent retrieving any particular document. One day and by chance I came upon the location of the television scripts for the Dr. Kildare show, starring Richard Chamberlain and Raymond Massey. I spent a great deal of time reading through the series’ seasons and didn’t much feel the heat. This was also a somewhat lonely job—we were each chasing different documents on different floors and in different boxes—and I recall searching through the rows singing to myself in preparation for a career as a folk artist in the coffee houses in Greenwich Village, but, alas, I never did learn to play the guitar.
I have been fortunate in my life not ever having to labor too strenuously during the heat—I am a teacher and the schools were either closed for the summers or lately, quite air conditioned. But when I was young I loved the heat: a double header on a not summer’s day was a joy, and I recall not a few days in mid-afternoon in the hot summers days of New York running in Central Park without even wondering when I would nap from the effort. Lying toastingly baking in the sun at Jones’ Beach was not a luxury but a regular activity. Of course, now in my older age I suffer from the exposure to the ultra-violent rays about which I remained oblivious, but then the time was glorious.
I wonder at what age the weather becomes a major factor in the organization of a person’s life.  As for heat, I prefer now to remain inside and sedentary. I read. But the cold (here in the mid-West) is bitter and it is better to move about to stay warm. Gary and I would in the coldest of morns, when the temperature was -20o and the wind chill factor made the air feel even colder, don our several layers, our Gore-tex and our headlights and head out at 6:00am and run into the day. And as we age we remain amazed at having so behaved. Then, it made all the sense in the world; now, it defies our credulity.
It must have been a slow transition. I do not recall when the weather became a factor having such influence on my behavior, or when the weather man (sic)—now referred to as meteorologists—became so prominent as a source of news. The reporting of the weather and the Dow Jones Average is all that connects one day to the next these days: only these numbers are reported regularly and often.  
So I am not going to complain about the weather, though I already have done so, haven’t I?


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