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MARTHA SEZ: Trying not to wilt in the heat like those farmers

July 6, 2018
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

This heat! In Keene, July began with temperatures in the high 90s. That's fine for places like Borneo, or Equatorial Guinea, or Houston, Texas, but it's not what people expect when they come to the Adirondacks.

The average temperature here for the month of July is about 80 degrees. In 1949, the mercury rose to 100 degrees on the Fourth of July (they were still making thermometers with mercury back then), but that is a record, not the norm.

Some Adirondack summers are cool and rainy, and then people don't enjoy swimming very much. Other years, summers can be so warm and dry that the rivers and creeks run low or don't run at all, leaving swimming holes stagnant.

So far this July people are reporting that the water is still moving along and that it is refreshing, if somewhat warmer than usual. Tourists stop to ask, "Where is the nearest swimming hole? Where is the swimming hole the locals go to?"

The AuSable River is a watershed, fed by more 70 creeks and streams from its headwaters in the High Peaks to its mouth, where it empties into Lake Champlain. The AuSable's two main tributaries are the Chubb River and Black Brook.

According to the Ausable River Association, "A watershed is an ecological community defined by the shape of the land and the flow of fresh water to a common point."

In spring, when the mountain snows are melting, the AuSable is cold, full, and fast-moving. Because it is a watershed, it will be shallower and its water current will slow down considerably when rainfall is low.

The Boquet River is also a watershed, and Split Rock, its famous, even notorious, swimming hole in Elizabethtown, has been full of swimmers this last week.

When the Boquet is full and running fast, Split Rock is a dangerous place to swim. It was, in fact, once called "a killing machine" by a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officer. Right now it is just a scenic spot where people go to cool down.

Air conditioning has been a popular item. If your place of business is air conditioned, it gives you a certain prestige. Someone asked me whether I remember signs depicting a little penguin saying "Come in! It's cool inside!" at movie theaters. I do. The signs advertised "air conditioned comfort," and were decorated with rows of icicles. Midwinter, we're not that enamored of icicles around here, but during the dog days of summer they have their appeal.

The summer my daughter Molly and I traveled to Ann Arbor from Colorado, Michigan was having a heat wave. The school baseball diamonds, usually a deep green, were brown, the grass dead and dry. When the wind blew, it raised dust. It didn't rain for the longest time, I don't know how long. Once Molly and I were on the university campus sitting on a bench by the giant twirling cube sculpture when out of the sky blew a string of drop drops. That was it. They quickly disappeared into the dust. Rain is another thing people will take for granted until it's gone. We went into the theater and watched "Pippi Longstocking" over and over again. It was cool inside.

The memory of that summer makes me a little nervous about the heat wave we're going through in the Adirondacks right now, a heat wave that stretches all the way across the Midwest through the Northeastern states. Meteorologist are saying the weather will have turned by the weekend, When temperatures and humidity are predicted to be much lower. By the time you read this, it may already have happened.

I have heard local restaurant kitchens have been unbearably hot. For some reason, a restaurant kitchen can be ventilated, but not efficiently air conditioned. Unfortunately, ventilation wasn't working, since the air outside was nearly as hot as the air from the ovens inside.

The Keene Farmers Market was busy Sunday despite the heat, but at noon many of the vendors looked as if they were fading fast, wilting in the heat. One of them said it wasn't too awfully long ago when they were huddled in their coats and hats and gloves around space heaters, trying to keep out of the snow and wind.

Well, that's the Adirondacks for you. As I have said many times before, the weather here is never normal. It's always extreme one way or another.

Keep cool, and have a good week.



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