Grandma & Grandpa's Farm

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Is It Getting a Little Hot In Here?

This is for all of you who are feeling a bit wilted or toasted under under the early season heat lamps of our late Spring or perhaps feeling a bit chilled in the cooler. Actually I am not going to talk about Global Warming or inclement weather - rather I am going to talk about feeling comfortable when for some reason we might otherwise be expecting to feel uncomfortable.

Now I know that the weather might feel uncomfortable. We can feel too hot for comfort and too cold for comfort and it is our body giving us important information for our survival. But there is more involved with feeling comfortable otherwise people living in Virginia wouldn't be reaching for winter coats at temperatures that people from Chicago might be stripping off their sweaters at - and that is taking into account "humidity". I think there is a large psychological part of things which is why there is a lot of "getting used to the water" involved in activities such as swimming.

Now it is true that with swimming it does actually take a bit for our bodies to adjust and the actual blood flow changes to take into account that water will pull heat away from our body faster than air even if the water is the same temperature as the air. But consider that at the beginning of the "summer" season a temperature that feels sweltering will in the middle of the summer feel comfortable - a breath of fresh air. The same goes for winter, but as we are getting towards the end of spring I will write mostly about summer heat.

I used to be miserable in the summer heat.

Now of course this worked for me and might not for you. I discovered when I was diagnosed with diabetes that I was chronically dehydrated. Our body has some pretty marvellous systems for cooling us down if it has enough water to work with. Even when the humidity is high enough that our sweat isn't evaporating properly from us and our clothing is becoming wringing wet instead, we can drink a glass of ice water and get rid of it shortly at body temperature and that heat had to come from somewhere! Our kidneys are pretty good at retaining the salts an minerals that we need as well and so every time you tinkle you cool down somewhat, even if it is a nuisance. I guess it is easier if you work or play somewhere that you can take tinkle breaks as needed.

So I drink a litre of water, a little while later, maybe half an hour, I head to the washroom and then when I come back to where I am working I refill my bottle and drink another litre. It keeps me cool. (actual mileage may vary)

I also discovered that when I am cranky and complaining I feel worse. The more often I say "I'm too hot." the worse I feel. I also discovered that when people are around someone who is grumbling about being too hot, they tend to get cranky and the whole bunch get more uncomfortable. But if someone is there and cheerful and bright - but not too cheerful perhaps - then the mood lifts and people feel more comfortable and not so bothered by whatever the climatic situation.

So, I try to drink plenty - making sure that most of it is water - I try not to keep complaining and rather enjoy it - we can enjoy a much hotter bath, sauna, or hot tub after all - and I do make sure to be in good health as possible.

I guess that last bit fits with the first bit of drinking plenty of water. I am still prone to heat exhaustion and sunstroke. so I have to be careful and I do take some medicine that precludes me getting too much sun. Young children, the elderly, and infirm do not have the full marvellously working cooling system a healthy adult has.

We can handle the temperatures if halfway healthy over a great spread provided we can shelter from sun, wind, and water. I have worked at temperatures from freezing to summer heat in coveralls, work pants, and T-shirt and I am no great Olympian of stamina.

We actually can stand greater summer heat than a lot of animals like dogs. We just have to remember to modify our behaviour a bit. That is what animals do. "Only mad dogs and Englishman stay out in the Noon day sun." Or something like that is how the saying goes. Stay out of the heat of the day and dress according to the weather. Wear sun hats, hats that keep the sun off your head and perhaps with a brim to keep it off your face shoulders and neck. Sun hats also tend to be ventilated so as not become little pizza ovens on our scalps. There are reasons for straw hats.

But just try and say, "I'm going to enjoy the fine summer weather. I'd pay big money to get this in Hawaii. I can enjoy this nice cold water. The summer will end all too soon.

If all else fails, pretend you are on an adventure to some exotic hot place like Africa, India, Polynesia, The Amazon, The Australian Outback, or Saskatchewan.

~ Darrell

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