When I was a kid, I’d get up late at night when I couldn’t sleep and turn on the TV. A lot of times, it was a test pattern, because programming had long since ended for the day.
Occasionally though, I’d luck out and find some old movie if I was patient enough to flip through all of the 10 or so channels we had back then. More often than not, I would find one of the 1960s “Dracula” movies with Christopher Lee. Seeing them many years later, I couldn’t help but laugh. But watching them as a 4-, 5- or 6- year-old, I was wide-eyed and thrilled.
The most enduring scenes for me are the ones where Dracula would inevitably try to outrun the impending sunrise. For the last two weekends, I’ve developed an empathy for the vampire. While the first beams of light weren’t likely to blow holes through me or cause me to burst into flame as it would the iconic character, there were times, especially on Saturday, where it felt like it would!
I dutifully rose at 5:30 and was outside 15 minutes later, just like I had the week before to work on the bricks out back. Out there, I had a few hours, maybe as many as three, before I was working in full-on sun. Out front, I had less than half that time. And, on this Saturday, the temperature was rising even faster than a week before.
The walkway I’d made four years ago, needed a little more TLC than I anticipated. While I expected to be finished by no later than noon, when noon arrived, I hadn’t even finished clearing and cleaning the walkway yet. With the temperature a balmy 99, I had to quit. I was red as a strawberry, completely drenched and a bit shaky. I thought if I could wait until the shade came out onto the walkway, conditions might improve enough that I could finish.
They did. But only marginally. By then, it was 107 degrees (the day’s high and the fifth or six record temp in a row during a 10-day stint of triple-digit heat). The walkway was still mostly in sun, but I persisted. Carrying 50- and 60-pound bags of concrete was pure hell. I took brief breaks, killed several bottles of water and retreated to the house for an out-and-out cool down once. By 7 p.m., I was cleaning up and getting ready to call it a day. All totaled, I'd spent between 8.5 and 9 hours out in the heat.
As a result, Sunday was a very lazy day. I felt like the vampire had gotten me -- and siphoned every bit of life from me.
This morning, it’s back to the grind. I’m tired and still a bit sore but the weather is a welcome change. It’s a bit muggy but not the balmy 80 it’s been the past few mornings at dawn. There's a light breeze and an undertone of coolness, courtesy of the front that's to give us highs in the 80s all week. And, it’s only supposed to hit 90 degrees today. Yes, that’ still warm, but it’s been hotter than that at 10 most nights for the last two weeks. So extreme heat, I bid you adieu.
Like Dracula, go away for another 80 years or so.