Maybe it’s just the heat, but I am having a hard time feeling positive about much of anything right now. I realize the climate crisis is more serious than my discomfort from the hot weather – honestly, I do – but at the moment, I just can’t get past how f***ing hot it is.
First of several confessions: we have air conditioning in our house, which has been running pretty steadily this summer. The AC is supplemented by many fans – celling, floor, table top – in my office and our bedroom, since the cool air doesn’t make it up to the second floor. Even so, sleeping is a hot and sweaty experience, and neither my partner nor I feels particularly refreshed in the mornings.
Friends came for dinner on Saturday and, with an eye on the forecast temperatures and the red “Heat Warning” banner on the Environment Canada website, I concocted a cold menu. Of course, given that I am not a raw food extremist, those lovely cold dishes had to be cooked before they could be chilled, so I started work shortly after 5 am to avoid the worst of the day’s heat. Even so, my clothes were soaked through with sweat when I finished using the stove and oven shortly after 8 a.m.
That evening, we sat outside, surrounded by the lush blooms of our begonias, calla lilies, hibiscus and mandavilla, for burrata, roasted cherry tomatoes and basil and sparkling wine. As long as we didn’t move, we didn’t sweat.
After that, we moved to the artificially cooled comfort of the inside for vichyssoise – a cold soup I had not made for decades, but which was as good as I remembered it to be – followed by chilled poached salmon, potato chive salad and roasted red pepper salad. Dessert was wine-soaked peaches and nectarines, topped with whipped honeyed ricotta, raspberries and blueberries. There was lots of cold white wine consumed over the course of the evening, which helped me forgot how hot it was until we walked outside with our friends when they left.
Second confession: we have a dishwasher. I always feel slightly guilty about this but, on Saturday night, it was well worth whatever debits I accrued on my climate crisis scorecard. I loaded it up, added detergent, hit start and headed off to bed to sweat my way through the night.
Best part of that meal — other than the time spent with our friends, of course? Enough leftovers that I didn’t have to cook at all the next day.
To market, to market
Third confession: The next morning, I drove to the Memorial Centre market, which is only a few blocks from my house. By 8 a.m., it was 26 degrees — 36 with the humidex — and I knew I would be incapable of walking there, let alone back, loaded down with my vegetable purchases. Just to be fully transparent, I ran the AC in the car all the way there and back, and I might have taken the long route just to stay cool for a bit longer.
Even before its official opening time, the market was jammed. While I would have loved to have shopped in blissful solitude, it is great to see how this once-little, relatively new – it opened in 2012 — market has survived and thrived. During the pandemic, it went virtual: shoppers placed orders online during the week and picked them up on Sundays. This led to a perhaps unanticipated happy outcome: the market, now restored to in-person over the spring, summer and fall, runs in its virtual format all winter.
It’s a true local market: 100% producer-run, with everything for sale grown or produced within 100 kilometres of Kingston. There are no lemons or bananas to be seen, but there’s live music, yoga or tai chi some weeks, and fresh, piping hot and extremely delicious churros, in addition to the vegetables, fruits, meats, baking, craft beers, spirits, kombucha and more.
Fourth confession: I have had more than one inexcusably bad outburst of rage in the past few days, which I am choosing to blame on the heat. Sunday morning, upon returning from the market, I was desperate for a drink of ice-cold water. I am embarrassed to admit that, when I could not get the ice cubes out of their tray, I threw the entire tray across the kitchen, dislodging ice cubes on the floor, the counter and in the sink, then walked out of the room, leaving the whole mess behind me.
I retreated to my office, where the sound of our neighbour’s whipper snipping drove me to such distraction that I found myself hoping he would be felled – perhaps permanently – by heat prostration.
Fortunately for all, my partner brought me the cold drink of water I so badly needed, complete with ice cubes and, soon after, my daughter texted to see if I would join her on a trip to Costco.
Fifth and final confession, at least for today: retail therapy saved me from further bad behaviour. I returned from this outing with some purchases I needed and some I didn’t, and my good humour was restored, despite the 40 degree humidex.
Note: For the rest of August, I’ll be posting just once a week out of respect for the dog days of summer.