Sunday, December 16, 2007

Remembering the heat in the cold - my brush with heat stroke

Last night, in obscure moments of semi-sleep - I could hear what I thought was rain. This morning it was clear the sound was actually little frozen sleet-pellets hitting the roof. The walk and driveway were full of them and it was a peculiar walking experience - almost like walking on deep sand, rather than snow. Driving was tricky but by going slow, and with some skidding and sliding, things progressed. Out by the airport it was almost all white like driving in a cold cloud with hills and sky merging into white. I made it into work and back without a hitch.

Since it's 24 degrees outside my window, naturally I am thinking of hot weather.

During the one of the hottest summers on record, I made the incredible mistake of moving to burbs of Atlanta GA. Shortly after arriving, I went for a walk one day in a long lazy southern subdivision. I got lost and wondered for hours in the terrible afternoon heat. Later I learned it was 105 degrees that afternoon. I knew it was hot, as I was soaked in sweat and my mouth was parched. After an hour and half of passing houses that looked alike, my forehead was cold, and my hands were clammy. I stopped sweating altogether and imagined I would never be heard from again. About that time, I came to a school and I spied a water spigot on the foundation. First thing I stuck my whole head under the water, so it ran down my back and shoulders. Then once I was soaked, I felt a little better and I drank, thanking the fates no one had turned off the water during the summer recess. I stuck each foot and arm under the spigot too, so I was really soaked and cooled. Then I collapsed in the shade for almost an hour, getting up several times for more water. I was lucky I didn't die that day.

When I was rested, I started to walk very slowly, to float along really on my rubbery legs. Getting overheated takes a lot out of you. Finally I came to a commercial area. The first store I saw was an air-conditioned fast food joint where I ordered a large ice tea... New to the south, I had no idea how large a large drink was down there. It came in a bucket the size of bucket of fried chicken. I could have bathed in it..... But right at that moment, I just marveled and drank as much as I could for the trip home. I really had no idea where exactly I was. On a payphone, I called a friend who came in a lovely beatup air conditioned cougar to pick me up.