So everyone knows that we’re in the midst of a heat wave. We’re awakened in the morning by the radio announcer stating the current time, while simultaneously telling us to expect temps near 100 before the day is over. A glance at the window reveals condensation, the tell-tale sign of high humidity which we all know makes the temperature even more unbearable. While I can’t change the weather, I hope to distract you by sharing images shot in the past week of plants and insects that are thriving. Some were made at the WildWest Community Garden at the Wildwood YMCA. The remaining images were shot at our home, with the exception of the “wall of water” which is featured below.
Images copyrighted by Dancing Woman Designs
Watching the bees and butterflies busy at work insuring that our plants are pollinated made me realize that we are blessed on many levels. We are blessed to have nature working hard to produce fruit and seed so that we may eat. Beyond being grateful for the activities of bees, butterflies, birds,bats, and other pollinators, I’m reminded of other aspects of life that we often fail to fully appreciate. Here’s a short list of what our current weather reminds me that I’m thankful for:
Farmers and all who work without air conditioning –
First and foremost on my short list of things to be thankful for during our “excessive heat wave” are farmers and the many other workers who toil outside in the weather, regardless of the temperature. The produce we enjoy from local growers like that offered at Ellisville Farmers Market and Wildwood Farmers Market is possible because lots of people work in spite of the muggy hot days. You know, those days when it seems the air is so thick and so still that a spoon could stand upright on its own, given an opportunity. I have 3 community garden plots and some plants on our deck that I confess I have chosen to ignore on more than one day because it is too hot or I have something else I’d rather do. I don’t think the people who chose farming as a way of life have that choice. Where would we all be if someone didn’t accept the challenge and endure the heat? I have loved gardening for years, but when I started trying to grow vegetables this year, I quickly realized that what I really love is gardening in the shade. If you think about it, you know how incompatible shade gardening is with raising vegetables. So if you’re sun averse as I am, you can vegetable garden at dusk or dawn, but the challenge is to figure out how to get everything done within those narrow windows of time.
Air conditioning –
I grew up in Texas without A/C until I was almost an adult. We didn’t have it in our homes or our schools, and it was an expensive option in automobiles. At the time, girls were required to wear dresses to school and the style included full skirts which were supported by a petticoat. It was unbelievably hot. Paper fans were de rigeuer, as open windows provided the only breeze. When it’s 95 degrees or more, “breezes” are nonexistent. In high school one wing of the building had A/C so all the English classes were held there. The theory was every one was required to take an English class so every student would have at least one class a day in an air conditioned room. So I’m grateful for air conditioning and consider it a luxury although most of us have come to expect it as a necessity.
Potable and plentiful water –
An interesting side development occurred while I was writing this blog. I hoped to add some water images to elicit sensations of coolness. I set out Wednesday evening to capture the fountains at Fountain Plaza in Ellisville. I arrived around 8 pm, armed with my Canon Rebel XT digital camera with a Canon EFS 17-85 mm lens. I intended to capture the water flowing down the stone walls and bubbling from the top. I parked across the drive near the wall just south of Lifetime Fitness; put my Android phone in one pocket, my keys in the other and locked the car. I walked across the dry grass and was thankful when I realized that there was a grassy strip in front of the fountains which would allow me to shoot without worrying too much about cars coming and going on the drive. I shot two images and realized that I needed to change my angle to better frame the water bubbling from the top. I took one step onto the foot wide ledge that sets slightly off the ground. I instantly started sliding wildly. My first thought was, oh well, I’m going to get my feet wet. The next thing I know, I’m falling backwards into the narrow trough between the wall and the ledge. As I had my camera in my right hand, I reached frantically for the sky, hoping to keep it out of the water. The last thing I remember as I slipped completely beneath the water’s surface was tossing the camera as far as I could onto the grass. I hit my head on the wall, but thankfully not hard enough to lose consciousness. It took me a few seconds to right myself as the bottom of the trough was also slick. My first concern was for my camera; I had completely forgotten about my smart phone in my pocket. I dragged myself out of the fountain which I swear is nearly four feet deep. Guess I’ll have to go measure it just so I’ll know. I found a canvas shopping bag in my car and dried the water spots from the camera and realized that it was still powered on and seemed to be functioning. With my vision impaired by dripping eyeglasses, I tried to evaluate the condition of the lens. I tried turning the zoom barrel and concluded that I had separated it from the main lens body. Not good. That’s when I remembered my phone, still in my left pocket. I pulled it out and realized there was water under the screen. I kept remembering the time I dropped a cell phone into a glass of water and was able to save the phone by drying it with compressed air. I covered the driver’s seat with another cloth shopping bag, loaded my soggy self and my phone and camera into the car. When I arrived home, my son said that I looked like a drowned rat. I’m afraid that was a pretty accurate description. I tried drying the phone with compressed air and got most of the water out, but it is a loss.
While I felt much cooler after my dip in the fountain, I don’t recommend it. Public pools in Ballwin or Ellisville would be a lot more fun. Ballwin has the outdoor pool at North Pointe and an indoor pool at The Pointe, while Ellisville has The Edge Aquatic Center in Bluebird Park. Just remember to put your electronics safely away first.
While at the Ellisville Farmers Market on Thursday, I was reminded again to be thankful for water. George Sackett made the rounds with pitchers of iced water, making sure that everyone stayed hydrated. I stayed a couple of hours, visiting with friends. When I came home you can bet I was grateful for a cool shower. I washed a couple of loads of laundry today. I have to confess, I didn’t think anything about the water used to do that. It’s amazing how easy it is to take clean and plentiful water for granted. We just turn the faucet, and clean water magically appears. As Ben Franklin wrote in 1746, in Poor Richards Almanack, ” When the Well’s dry, we know the Worth of Water.” With drought stricken states all around, parts of the U. S. are getting a hint of what it’s like in so many other countries of the world. The University of Nebraska at Lincoln Drought Impact Report for the last 6 months reveals that roughly 70% of the states have been impacted by drought in the past 6 months. I’m sure you’re all familiar with George Hutchings, fondly known as The Shoe Man. George is intimately familiar with the impact on life due to water scarcity. George is a Ballwin resident who works tirelessly collecting shoes for the resale market,using the proceeds to pay for water drilling expeditions to places like Kenya. If you haven’t met George, visit his website and learn about his work. He is indeed an amazing man!
I’m sure each of you finds relief from the heat in your own way. I’d love to hear what keeps you cool when it’s 100 degrees outside. What are you thankful for during a heat wave?