As soon as I hit the trail I knew the humidity was ramped a bit. It was only ninety-one but if felt a lot hotter. The air hung with a stillness than suggested death. Optimism seemed nearly suicidal but I’ve been out here before. I’ve dared the heat of July to kill me every year that I can remember and this year will not be any different. And ninety-one isn’t within ten degrees of where this month might take us. Yeah, this is just a warm up for the big event. When it hits one hundred, that’s when I’ll get out here and we’ll see if I can take it.
No, really, that’s my plan.
Doesn’t seem all that smart, does it? This is a piece of the world that is part power line right of way, mowed once a season, part private property that I know better than to be on, and a piece of an old roadbed abandoned years ago, and walking it in the heat of the day, the hottest part of the day, isn’t what most people would call fun. I’m not sure I think it’s fun, either. But I do know that it strengthens my ability to stand the heat. I can feel the work out in my legs. It an eleven kilometer plus journey than I can knock out in two hours and a piece, depending on how good I feel.
I wear long sleeves year round. People ask me what sort of sunscreen I use and I tell them, “Cotton”. I’m covered from head to toe with sunglass and a wide brim hat. I can feel the heat pounding me in the first one hundred meters and I wonder if it is really hotter than Siri claims. The sleeves of my shirt and the shoulders begin to feel blistered. Ninety-one isn’t as bad as it was last time at ninety-three. But it feels hotter. It feels a lot hotter.
People laugh at me when I show up with long sleeves and jeans while everyone else is stripping down to shorts and tee shirts. Worse, I intentionally buy my shirts a littler larger so they fit loosely. The sleeves of the shirt I’m wearing now go down to where my fingers begin. I’ve been known to wear gloves in really hot weather. I really am the whitest white person you will ever see. And I’m easily seen, too.
Not that you’d want to.
The vines covering a small ravine tempt me to go around but I go over, leaping, in as much as I do leap, and landing solidly, thank you good boots. They really need to mow this thing. I can still navigate the wooly scrub as well as anyone but the briars and vine tug at my jeans and feet. This is the part where I lose the most time. Six and a half kilometers an hour is my speed over even ground and this isn’t.
There’s this weird theory roaming around in my head, staying in the corners of the round room and pretty much being elusive as hell but the walk brings in closer and in focus. I was in bed with a woman who was telling me about a friend she had that was deep into doing psychotropic drugs. The person in question was really very stoned one night and was with her husband who was equally wired. The odd thing is they began to see shapes and patterns on the wall and the ceilings. They talked about what they were seeing, you know, like people cloud watching, and it was a fun thing to do. At one point the guy was telling his wife about this painting that he had seen that was geometric and wild looking and suddenly it appeared, to both of them, on the wall. They talked about how it would be better if this part was wider, this part wavy, and they had a great time with it.
They were telling my friend about this and she laughed at them and told them they were both gracing the edge. They swore it as real and my friend told them, “Okay, let’s go.” She took the guy in one room and the wife in another and had them draw out what they had told her about. It took a long while but at the end of the experiment the drawings were strikingly similar.
I hit the three and a quarter kilometer mark in just over thirty minutes and I am pleased. I drink just enough water to wet my mouth and I realize the ice cold water is now kinda warm. Siri, how hot it is? 92, Mike, HOT!
There’s an old church, maybe unused, with a tiny graveyard, still in use, and all I can really see well through the underbrush is a man using a hoe to weed around the back steps. But no, I stop and wipe the sweat out of eyes and there is no one there at all. Keep moving, just keep moving.
They theory comes back with the conversation I had with the woman. She told me she thinks that some people are really in tune with one another and they could likely pull that off without drugs. It’s why some people, she smiled at me when she said this, are better sex partners than others. But the conversation turned serious. She asked me if I thought people in general gave off some sort of vibe and I agreed that it had to be true, considering the brain runs off electrical energy. Ah, she said, so this is why some people are more, and she stopped, searching for a word, with one hand in the air, and I will always remember how she looked at that moment, “More charming” and I thought she had something there, as well as other places, too. She told me she thought everyone’s brain operated at a certain frequency range and when two people had that part of the range to themselves it was love at first sight.
The part of the journey I hate is being close to the homes of people. But no one is outside. A dog might bark and lo! Two rat dogs give chase to me but they’re very small and very mouthy. But they aren’t dangerous to anyone wearing boots and I outwalk their death threats.
The next thirty minutes pass and the idea has now gotten intermingled with the woman, and I wonder if she’d answer the phone if I called her. I’m halfway there and already I am delirious, it seems.
There is a slight rise in elevation, the last part of the walk that is anything to mention. It takes fifteen minutes to walk it and then the home stretch. I call my ride and she arrives as if she had timed it. “I knew you were on a fast walk today” and I hit it right at two hours.
The downside is now, over three hours from the walk, I am tired, I have a headache, and my feet hurt. My skin feels baked.
Siri tells me the high today was 94.