What We Do in the Heat, Everglades Version

It seems odd (but consistent with blame climate change) that I’m posting about dealing with extreme heat here in the Everglades without electricity while folks in Texas are suffering from extreme cold without electricity. Of course I’ve chosen to live off the grid, and I’m not truly suffering. Just sweaty.

I think of this post as a Part 2 of What We Do in the Heat because we keep referring to how hot we were in Madison, Wisconsin last July. We had electric hookups there so could run the AC as much as we wanted, but what we really wanted to do was hang out with our local friend Doug and his family, and with Covid we had to do that outside. And we’d not yet bought our tent, so we were reduced to sweating together in the shade of the far side of the trailer and under random trees in the campground.

(I love this photo so much I take every chance to reuse it.)

We also visited with friends, Guy and Patti, but they spent the morning with us before the day became ridiculous so there was no need to hunker in the shade.

There’s the crux. In that extreme heat, yes the Airstream becomes a literal hothouse as the sun beats down on the shiny aluminum, but cool evenings give the utilities a break. Here in the Everglades we’ve had hot days and hot nights, so nothing’s had a chance to cool down, such as … the refrigerator.

We defrosted it; we opened the outside access panel to keep the heat from building there; we try not to open the fridge door unnecessarily. It’s still creeping up to temps dangerous to our food. Tomorrow we’ll watch it closely.

Outside we lounge under the awning where there’s a bit of a breeze; the tent can be stifling.

At night we leave some windows open, which is tricky because we have to pull down the shades due to our campsite being right off the campground road here. But frankly everyone else is in the same situation, and when I walk Banjo at dawn I see camper doors left wide open for more air. So it’s a communal pajama exposure around here in the heat.

We also leave on both roof fans, but they’re designed to close when it starts to rain, and the dew is so heavy at night that that means they close about five minutes after we open them. So … hot nights in the trailer.

Last night we got out into the breeze and under the stars when we walked to the amphitheater to hear a young ranger lecture on the history of the Everglades and its unique ecosystem.

Among many interesting facts I gleaned—between swatting at mosquitos and peering into the dark over the pond wondering when an alligator might lunge out—is that a special tree snail here is an endangered species. We knew about them but haven’t been looking especially for them; we will now.

The ranger said each one is unique and beautiful, having evolved in tiny isolated areas here. (I chimed in, “Like Darwin’s wrens,” at which point Tracy laughed and corrected, “Finches.” Oh yeah, I knew that.) He’s actually seen them at the Galapagos and says they’re plain. I’m counting on these snails to be bright. This intrepid reporter will report back.

Tomorrow should be our final hot day here, with the heat breaking tomorrow night. My friend Karen is visiting with her family and a birthday cake (how very cool of her to bring her own cake—I can’t wait!) but I worry a bit about the icing melting unless we eat it right away. Who am I fooling; we’ll eat it right away.

Preoccupied Brain

All the while, part of my brain is sloshing around uselessly, wondering how my son is doing at his final semester of undergraduate school as he awaits graduate program responses.

Here we were visiting right after my sister died, and you can tell from the look on my face that he’s explaining something about his field of high-energy physics.

He’s so far away, dealing with living on a college campus during a pandemic (though his school is managing it exceptionally well and he’s vigilant) and wrapping up two final projects in his two majors, plus researching the PhD programs that have sent him offers and waiting (more patiently than I am) for, likely, more offers.

I have literally stopped wearing my Apple Watch so that I won’t check it constantly for that little notification that I’ve gotten a text from him. Where he lives for the next ~six years and what kind of graduate experience he’ll have is a pretty damned exciting turn of events, just around the corner.

Uke Segment

This is an abrupt topic change, from bourgeoning young talent to struggling adult learner.

I recorded this at the amphitheater lectern where we heard the ranger’s presentation last night, and even though not a soul was in sight I was still nervous, as you can tell by my fast intro.

And hey, these videos are more practice for me to feel comfortable playing with friends. I encourage you to skip them to protect your vision of me as the sophisticated Airstream nomad.

Hee hee. Whatevs. Watch at your own risk. Or better yet, watch with the sound turned down; Li, I took your advice and smiled sometimes.

Okay, you guys stay safe!