Saturday, July 16, 2005

Hot Hot Heat

Having spent the bulk of my life below the Mason/Dixon line, I ought to be used to steamy, sultry summer weather. My last summer in Baltimore, for instance, was marked by a four-week stretch during which the mercury never dipped below 90. At the time, I thought nothing of it.

But my Yankee roots must be showing, as the heat wave currently beating down on Toronto has me in sweaty, sticky misery. Although the temperatures are mild by Baltimore standards — especially since it does, in fact, cool down in the evening here — and the humidity no worse, Toronto is far less comfortable at 30° C than at -30° C. (That’s 86° and -22° for you Fahrenheiters.)

Some of that may be my cold-weather prejudice coming out, but it’s mostly a reflection of the fact that Toronto has not succumbed to the sort of hot-weather crutches that make life in the American South livable. Air-conditioning is not ubiquitous here, particularly in houses and lo-rise apartments, and that seems to reflect the Canadian fondness for fresh air as much as the relative rarity of scorchers. Consequently, Torontonians are less likely to spend their summer going from artificially cooled space to artificially cooled space, venturing outdoors only for recreation or lawn cutting. People continue to walk or to cycle, to enjoy the coolness of an evening from a front porch or rooftop deck, and to assume that the outside is not their enemy.

Given the smog levels currently besetting the city, that may not be the wisest assumption, health-wise. Still, it beats the insularity of A/C land, and while I can’t say I enjoy spending my days feeling like a damp dishrag, it is nice to spend the summer in a house that smells like fresh air.

Except when the neighbours’ dog tries to play with one of the neighbourhood skunks. But that’s another story.

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