Privilege Blog

Do Crows Make More Noise When It’s Hot, Or, Saturday Morning At 7:51am

“Do crows make more noise when it’s hot?” I Googled.  No clear answer.

We’re having a heat wave in Northern California, which, given our usual deeply temperate climate, feels a little apocalyptic. If the Apocalypse comes in small doses that is. The crows are cawing late night and early morning. Jays are screaming, and fighting with seagulls in from the bay.

My house was built in 1953 and I do not have air conditioning. New houses in the Bay Area may, but we faithful few, we soldier on. Come the annual heat wave – because it happens almost every year and each time we say to each other, “Oh, it’s so HOT!”- we long-time Northern Californians open our windows at night and close up tight around 9:30am. We wait it out, feeling like we really live here.

The day before yesterday Yahoo weather got stuck at 102°. Long after and Wunderground were calling the temperatures down like an election, 93, 86, 82, our phones just glared at us, 102. Hotter than decades past.

Yesterday wasn’t much better. I drank cold water with a lot of ice and a little lemonade. By 3pm the heat had reached its peak. We opened the doors in surrender, and hot air blew through the house. I lay on the sofa with my legs resting up the back, fighting off foot swelling. What a heat sissy, acknowledged.

And, even though at one point the heat weighed on my chest so heavily it was almost hard to breathe, I felt a sort of gritty joy. Reveling in my body dealing with extremity, perhaps.

When I woke at 1:30am the temperatures had fallen to the 70s, as our marine layer cooled us off for sleep.  Now as I write, the back door open to a morning in the 60’s, I see today they predict a maximum of 88. I can recollect 102 fondly, “Remember that summer when Yahoo Weather got stuck?”

This may be the purest definition of privilege. In an abundance of 75° days we can enjoy one nigh-on painful sweating. In comfort we can enjoy hardship – it feels like life force, not distress.

But if I back away from my own senses and good cheer, I remember we’re in a drought. Delaine tells me it’s spreading across the country. This is the flipside risk of privilege, we find the crows to be an annoyance rather than intelligence from the front lines. I don’t want to feel danger, who would unless they had to? Maybe we have to.

It should go without saying that the responsibility of privilege is empathy, and on a broader scale some kind of global consciousness, but I still need reminding.

Have a wonderful weekend. I believe it’s possible, even when we acknowledge the hard stuff.

44 Responses

  1. I can go to Apocalyptic in a heartbeat, quite honestly, so I try to rein that in. But I hear you — ’cause you speak so clearly, write so well. We cooled down for a week, enough that the firefighters could contain the forest fires. The heat will be back this week, although only mid to high 20s for now (80? 85?). When it scoots into the 30s, I’m like you — it’s too warm, but not bad if I swim to cool down, avoid driving in our non-air-conditioned car, leave all the windows open through the night. And somewhere around mid-30s, something atavistic is triggered that wants to find a deep, dark cave and hide to survive. . . or a mudhole. When we start feeing that collectively, and for more sustained periods, and we think about our grandchildren, either those we already have or those we hope to. . . .
    Mine arrives today for a visit, and having acknowledged the hard stuff, I’m off now to see if it’s still possible to have that wonderful weekend. Wishing you one as well. Hope the crows shush for a bit.

    1. @Frances/Materfamilias, Had I written longer I think I would have said this: balance is important, for me at least. Too much Apocalypse paralyzes, too much optimism inures. On the other hand, then perhaps you wouldn’t have written this comment and I’d be sad:).

    2. I think you always fold in balance — and if I’d written longer, I would have stressed that both of us seem to strive for that point of balance that doesn’t need to shut down our peripheral vision. (but gah! I’d already written quite enough, no?!)

      Actually, to me there’s optimism in the very act of writing. Go you!

  2. Your post reminded me of the flip side of summer hot days.growing up in the Bay Area, we used to tell dates by the almost nonexistent snow. “Remember, that was the year it snowed.”

    Privilege indeed.

  3. Strange that it’s hotter there now than here. We’ve been solidly in the 80’s during the days, cooler at night. More humid than normal. The drought is really frightening. Yet companies are lobbying to increase water-intensive frakking here in So Cal.

    1. @déjà pseu, I wonder about the humidity – sprinkler usage or something else? In the meantime, I water my lawn once a week and try to focus on caring for my trees.

    2. It used to be dry and hot during LA summers, I can’t believe the humidity this year – I really dislike it. Feel like I’m on the east coast.

  4. Weather weenie here in SoCal. I have a hard time with the heat, even more so the humidity when a tropical storm comes in. I have great empathy for those who live in the east where the air is so humid and thick, and very difficult to breath.
    The heat seems to make a iced tea, salad and flip flops all the more enjoyable though. Sometimes I think the crows cawing relentlessly are calling the spiders, mosquitos, flys and ants to awaken from their winter sleep! Happy weekend, Lisa!

  5. We have exactly the same problem in rural Herefordshire….older house 1790s and timber under bricks with only windows on one side! Cool downstairs in the day and evening but upstairs far too warm. Fans help us to sleep but friends in similar houses are sleeping downstairs to get a good nights sleep. The joys of living in an old house…
    A hard week. In many ways. But at least one Sudanese mother will join you in the US and have the chance of a happier life. Enjoy the weekend….grandchildren one and three arrive tomorrow for fun!

  6. Here is humid, wet South Florida where the temps are in the 90s to 100, I change my drenched cotton dresses 2-3X day. We only run our sprinkler between 4AM – 6AM 2 days/wk. or the sun dries it all up. Drinking lots of h2o is great but don’t forget to replace the electrolytes that pour out in perspiration or you may feel light-headed. That’s what Gatorade is for. Although it’s packed with sugar, I drink it anyway. Showers in cold water also serve to help absorb a quart of water into your skin every time you take one, plumping it up. I also use moisturizer that is water-based as anything else feels like a mask and clog pores. Also putting a pack of ice behind your neck, at your temples and wrists is immediately cooling. You can also soak your feet in a tub of cold water with ice like dancers do on airplanes. I keep ice packs from delivered food in the freezer to use all day & wrap them in linen kitchen towels 2X to keep the ice from not being too cold and numbing. I also use swab toner on my face when it’s shiny which is refreshing! I also change my diet to cold soups, yogurt, salads, etc. Lmk how you find these tips!

    1. Good ideas! I always run water on my wrists, but in the drought, ice packs would be more water-sane.

  7. I can deal with it very hot during the day, but for sleep it has to be cold in my room. I sleep with the A/C on even in the winter. It’s also been very humid in LA, which Deja Pseu mentioned, and it seems like each summer it gets more so.
    Not sure why???

    1. I have multiple theories. Lawns are my primary suspects – but I kind of made that up. In any case, after decades of experiencing no humidity, I agree, we now have it too.

  8. The official temperature here was 107F today. We are fortunate to have air conditioning in the house and the car. Also in the stores and restaurants.

    Thanks for the link.

  9. When we get a heat wave the crows saunter around with their beaks open…
    I try to keep our bird baths full of water but they are shallow and the water evaporates quite fast.
    I don’t like to sleep in the heat as I find it oppressive and we have a 100 year old plus home with no screens on the windows so the mosquitoes fly in and make a real meal of me then I am cranky in the morning.

    We have a lot of forest fires burning in our province and the trees that have been decimated by the pine beetle are like matchsticks waiting to catch…apocolyptic and then there is the flooding in Kamloops….
    perspective and optimism are my saviours from tunnelling down the rabbit hole.

    1. I do it deeply, once a week. I’m moving from overhead/automated sprinklers to deep waterings by hand.

  10. Can’t you guys buy portable air conditioning units? Sleeping hot is just the pits. We’ve live without AC and living with it is better.

  11. I call it the Sumo of summer. It feels like that, sitting on my chest. -I resort to a glass of ice chips, which I hold in the same way that I hold a cup of hot tea in the winter. Remove all the decorative pillows and throws too. My mother had winter drapes and gauzy summer curtains…little touches make such a difference. As for the apocalypse, there are no exemptions and we shall each meet it on our own terms, no? But living a green life honors the planet and our children so I am fully signed on. Oh, and visit the nearest ice-skating rink for a sweet respite.

    1. So good to hear. I hope we all sign on to a green life, one way or another. And it is a Sumo wrestler, exactly.

  12. I use that old fever remedy, leg wraps. Soak towels in lukewarm water, wring out and wrap around your calves. Repeat when they’ve warmed up. Is said to be better than very cold water which seems to prompt the body first to keep the heat in.

    Very sorry about your drought situation. I used to work in organic produce sale for a time. When people came in happy about a sunny dry spring we always said, yes, quite, but very bad for the crops. The soil needs water …

  13. The Drought here in the Midwest claimed my mini-forest of 30-year-old pines: an Apocalypse on a small scale but my own.

    Until that point, I’d managed without AC, using all the tricks and techniques you’ve mentioned, but then my elderly cat became visibly stressed by summer heat — and I’m no longer young, so

    I acquired a portable AC. Cute little gizmo the size of a laundry hamper. I had a plumber cut a drain into the floor beneath its ventilating window so its evap runs directly into the sump pit et voila! When coolth returneth, I simply pull the exhaust hose apparatus out of the window, roll up the drain hose and wheel the gizmo down the hall into its closet roost.

    This single unit cools the house, but I bought another (non-draining) model for the lounge and poked its vent pipe up the chimney. My cats and I can now sit on the sofa and smile at it in comfort.

    *Note* Be sure your wiring can support this sort of unit. I did pay to have an electrician bless the installations.

  14. We could not live without our central air conditioning in Dallas. However, I remember going to summer camp in Texas without it and all those years of public school with no air conditioning.

    We are having a fairly pleasant summer here–not to many days of 100 degree or more yet.

  15. I think that definition of “privilege” is spot on. It’s why East Coast high WASPs have historically sent their children to summer camps with only rudimentary comforts and why generations of same spend lots of time on the cramped space of small wooden boats. Because the can do so, willingly….

  16. I Googled 102 – woah, that’s hot! I’ve only once been in that kind of hot (in Australia) and it was ridiculous. You basically couldn’t go outside.

    I’ve been whinging like mad that our offices have been around 26- 28 degrees C (17 to 82) and it’s been really warm all night, but we got nothing on you guys!

    Today was a touch cooler, which was a blessing.

  17. The odd thing is that the summer thus far in London has been amazing but the news hasn’t and it seems to have filtered down and no one is really rejoicing that we cant sleep at night and we aren’t wearing cashmere in July. AC is rather bad for one’s health and I would prefer to complain than get a stiff neck!!

  18. Yesterday, my daughter, son-in-law and baby (with a group of friends) were walking to that exact beach in Venice where the lightening struck. Luckily the babies napped longer than expected, so they were late getting there. I’m still shaking and feel so horrible for the people who were hit. Feeling a bit apocalyptic this morning, and thought of your post again yesterday afternoon right after my daughter called to tell me they were fine. Very strange weather in LA again today – creepy.

    1. Such a close call. Sorry you had to worry so. And so sorry for those who were hit. It is getting creepy – and I wonder where the clear action call is for us individuals who want to do the right thing. I think I need a step-by-step on how to live green.

  19. I can so relate to this. Laguna Beach, with it’s temperate weather year-round, reached the hottest temperature in the US the other day and I had not fixed my ac, thinking I’d never need it…so this morning, after sweating (and complaining) all weekend, it’s fixed finally. It worries me too, what this means for the country/world as a whole. But happy it’s summer and the ac is fixed now :)

    1. Something is definitely different. I love California’s summer, I hope it never flips into the realm of humidity and oppressive heat.

  20. Well, I live in south Ga and feel sorry not at all for you!! I LIVE in sweltering heat all the time, and the humidity is worse than the heat by the way. My ancestors are from the Mississippi Delta so I am genetically ready for this, but it is tougher each year as I turn old. I grew up without A/C and remember the chocolate chips melting in the kitchen cabinet!
    We run a farm, get up before dawn to get stuff done, then lay low at lunchtime for awhile and start up again late afternoon into evening. Also, just dunk a bandana into ice water, wring it out and wear it saucily around your already wet neck. It works!

  21. This post really resonated! So me. Our ranch home was built in ’65 and here in Los Gatos, no one has A/C on this street. It was’t too bad the first few years, I could deal. However with peri-menopause and global warming…Ugh!! I told my husband this is the last summer I will go without it.. Too funny about the routine..So me, closing up tight at 9, opening after we can’t bear it any longer!!
    Let’s hope it gets back to the usual soon..

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