Driving up from Boulder, I opened the car window and shut the air conditioner off for a change. It actually felt… comfortable, instead of the typical 90+ degree oppressive. I watched the exterior temperature gauge inside my car steadily drop as I made my 15-mile drive back to our home in Nederland. By the time I pulled into our driveway at 8:30 this evening, the temperature was 58 degrees. Fifty-eight degrees!!!!
I have to admit that I feel a bit sheepish complaining about heat living at 8200 feet. Especially when I know the majority of the country has been baking at 100 degrees along with high humidity. I watch baseball being played in St. Louis, where the start of a 7 pm degree shows sweat rolling off the pitcher’s cap. Or the desert southwest, like Phoenix and Las Vegas, regularly exceeding 110 degrees, where it actually is hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk.
But living in the mountains also means living without air conditioning or swamp coolers (the west’s version of air conditioning in ultra dry climates). We think a hot day as one that exceeds eighty degrees for the daytime highs. This summer, we have regularly been reaching upper 80s and even 90, which is unheard of. The house has gotten so hot, that the interior reached a stifling 84 degrees by the time I get home at night.
I’ve become Target’s best customer buying up box fans, and opening every window and running a multitude of fans just to get it tolerable enough to sleep at night. This is the summer of hot, hotter, and hotter than hell. And it seems never-ending. And if that isn’t bad enough, it’s all the summer or no rain in Nederland. Even when rain is falling all around us – rain in Boulder, rain in Denver, no rain in Nederland.
The sad thing is even after going through the trauma of this terrible wildfire that go so close to our house, I still feel like the danger and risk continues. There’s still forest outside our door that could so easily be ignited by a stray cigarette, an illegal campfire, a lightning strike. Despite the Cold Springs Fire being declared officially out, I drive around with the fire boxes in my car, not trusting that the danger is over. With no rain and exceedingly hot temperatures, the reality is that we’ve got a good 2 1/2 months of wildfire season yet to go, and my nerves can’t take that.
So, fifty-eight degrees feels pretty good. Fifty-eight degrees feels like autumn actually might be around the corner, and fifty-eight degrees feels like a less dangerous night for a fire to break out. At fifty-eight degrees, I might just get a good night’s sleep for the first time in two weeks.