Although today is officially the first day of summer, that most temperately oppressive of seasons arrived weeks early to the sweaty little corner of hell that is Grand Junction, Colorado.
Daily highs have already struck triple digits on multiple occasions, and days-long stretches in the mid 90s and above are now the norm—and will continue to linger like a presumptuous houseguest for the foreseeable future. The rare precipitation serves only to make the heat wet. “The sun,” to quote Fountains of Wayne, “is beating me senseless. I feel defenseless, like a dying lamb.”
I’ve had the misfortune to spend summers roasting in other grotesquely hot locales including St. Louis, where the humidity is choking, and Atlanta, which is like an open-air pizza oven, albeit one that stinks unappetizingly of seared flesh and boiled sweat. But what makes summers in Grand Junction notably insufferable is that air conditioning is a rarity; people here have been swindled into thinking the Swamp Cooler (I use the latter word loosely and capitalize the device not because it is a trademark but rather to emphasize its nefariousness) is a viable source of relief.
To be fair, these units produce a racket and odor that are almost enough to distract one from the fact that he needs to change shirts for the third time in a given day or the debate over whether to grill or just throw food directly onto the patio. I am not sure whom I loathe more: the inventor of evaporative coolers or the scam artist who convinced an entire desert population to buy them; both are on a short list of evil incarnate, somewhere below Satan and Dick Cheney, but above Michael Bay and TV weather forecasters.
Dogs wilt quickly in these torrid temps, but my canine companions have learned how to get their necessary fresh air and outdoor play while beating the heat: by preternaturally prodding me with wet noses in the predawn hours.
Thus, with the temperatures hovering briskly in the low 80s, we set out for morning walks or, if the human isn’t especially groggy, drive to a favorite outdoor spot where the dogs can frolic leash-free while I attempt to consume enough coffee to remain vertical. On fortuitous days, we’ll hit the park in synch with the sprinklers or be met with cooling breezes along the western slope of the Grand Mesa.
The dogs then spend the rest of the day napping in front of fans (presumably dreaming of snow). The human, meanwhile, plots appropriate punishment for the Swamp Cooler perpetrators and ponders how long it would take to cook tempeh on the sidewalk.
Dog days indeed; we say, let it snow.