Take comfort — it could be hotter

If it’s one thing we humans are pretty good at, it’s complaining about the weather.

Just one short week ago, when it was raining buckets one day and then raining barrels the next, I said to a neighbour, “Man, I’m getting sick of all this rain!”

To which he replied, “I know, are we ever going to get a decent summer?”

Now it’s a couple of Alberta days later, and it’s so hot, the paint is peeling off my car.

And the conversation went like this: Him: “Wow, this heat is killing me!”

Me: “Boy, we could sure use some rain!”

They say if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Well, I for one, haven’t gone near that metaphorical kitchen lately.

I’m not great with heat. It makes me sweaty and grumpy and so, like some sort of burrowing rodent, I spend as much time as possible in the basement where it’s cool and dark.

Some people thrive in the heat. A couple of my good friends just love to get toasted like pieces of bacon, and when the searing sun beats down, they enthusiastically and inexplicably bask in the stifling outdoor oven.

I mean, who can sleep in the overnight heat these days? Well, I can absolutely tell you who can sleep in this blast furnace – people who have central air conditioning.

Like my other neighbour. His big box of blessed cooling sits between our two houses, humming away contentedly during every heat wave. They are the neighbours who are smiling when the rest of us are melting.

I’ve been eyeing that thing lately. Making some plans. Putting together a few drawings involving running some hoses secretly from it under our chain link fence and into our hot house.

But I’m pretty sure that’s not how those expensive air conditioning machines work – I think it may have something to do with electricity or maybe plumbing, so I’ve sort of given up that idea.

But now, I’ll have to sneak over to their mailbox at the crack of dawn and steal their Saturday copy of the Advocate, so they don’t read about my nefarious – albeit abandoned – plan.

Things like high-jacking someone’s cool air doesn’t exactly make for good neighbour relations.

But really, in the grand scheme of things, our brief sojourn into 30 C isn’t a critical cause to complain. Take the aptly named Death Valley in California. It’s the driest place in the U.S. (except perhaps for a bar in Utah; har har) and it holds the record for the hottest air temperature ever recorded.

In 1913, it climbed mercilessly to 134 F. That’s 56.7 Canadian degrees!

Their average temperatures today? They reach 47. Now if that’s not enough to fry your eggs, I don’t what is.

And we Canucks aren’t impervious to the seven circles of sun hell. In case you were wondering, and who isn’t, the highest Canadian temperature was recorded at Yellow Grass, Sask., in July 1937: 45 C.

I’m betting the yellow grass was pretty much wilted there that summer.

But what about Alberta, I hear you asking. (And thanks for asking, I just happened to look it up.)

Two places make the list: Fort Macleod at 43.3 C in 1941, and Medicine Hat at 42.2 way back in 1886, when thermometers were made of wood.

And while I’m on the factoid kick, how about Red Deer? Even though I haven’t officially checked with ace historian Michael Dawe, I’m pretty sure my research is more or less accurate.

Our fair town hit 37.2 C in 1937, the year, I think, Michael was born. Coincidence?

But, hey, winter’s coming. And we might break the 1924 record of the coldest day, which was -50.6 C.

I can hardly wait.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker.

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