If the famous fog silently enters the Golden Gate on cats’ feet, August bellows in on flaming buffalo hooves. Not to put too fine a point on it, but my daughter-in-law Kim Hanson was talking to her aunt in Redding Monday and she reported 116 degrees on her patio. The hottest day was predicted to be Tuesday. The only outdoor sport I can think of in that kind of heat is driving somewhere else. Once the thermometer slides over 100 I begin to suffer ‘dain bramage!’ I don’t have that much to lose so staying cool is a priority. It seems only a few months ago we were all wondering when the oppressive winter storms would end. The Sonoma County Fair is set to open soon, how can you ride a ride when the seat tries to cook off your skin on your leg. Think of the poor horses, I imagine them going on strike, to the jockeys; “You want to race? Race! I’m staying in front of this fan!”
In this withering heat what happens to wildlife besides precooking themselves? Fishing in streams, rivers and lakes takes a dive as fish shelter in the cold layers of water, very little can entice them back up into the overheated water near the surface. Deer hunting is nearly upon us, the bucks take a shady spot on a ridge and let the breeze ruffle their fur. Oddly the animals stay near water during the dog days of summer. Even the wild pigs slow down and find a shady wallow, the poor animals have no sweat glands so a nice layer of cool mud is just the ticket on a sweltering, hot day. Wild animals tend to do all their feeding and socializing in the evening hours and pack it in mid-morning. Even the busy squirrels disappear in the hot mid-day sun. They go home to their hole inside a cool tree and kick back.
The unaffected region is the ocean, although the surface temperatures can rise the air is tempered by the 52-degree water. Below the surface life goes on unaware of the suffering of land dwellers. The seals haul out onto the wash rocks to take a snooze and bake some fat. If it gets too warm, they slide off into the chilly water long enough to get themselves cooled off again and climb back out to repeat the cycle.
The risk to the out of doors is fire, it is like a tinder box, one spark from a rock or bottle being kicked and off it goes. I have to admire the poor souls who go out and fight fires in this kind of heat. Let’s hope the wild stays unburned for a while longer.
Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.