Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

July 21, 2013

Marta Hepler Drahos: Feeling hot, hot, hot — too much so

Heat, heat, go away. Don’t come back another day.

The childish rhyme runs through my head whenever I step outside in this tortuous weather of late. The weather, I’m beginning to fear, that will come more and more frequently to northern Michigan with climate change, making me unbecomingly pleased that I insisted on central air when we built our house.

Already the latest heat wave has claimed dozens of lives across the country. And in places like New York City, heatwave deaths could increase up to 22 percent in the coming decade as new temperature norms climb under global warming, one study suggests.

For locals who pay thousands to cook on tropical shores, a warming trend in northern Michigan is just what the doctor — and the budget — ordered.

What could be better than basting under southern palms than frying under northern pines?

My middle sister, who can withstand hours in the sun to tend and harvest produce for area restaurants and farmers markets, inherited the olive, heat-loving Portuguese skin-genes in our family.

Me? I wither, burn and peel, in short order.

My idea of hell is Hell, I tell someone, recalling bible stories of a raging pit of fire from which there is no escape.

As a kid, I had only to play on vacation beaches for minutes before crisping nicely.

Once I suffered from sun poisoning, a severe form of sunburn. My milky-white forehead, then lobster red, swelled to twice its size, I was seized alternately by fever and chills, and even my favorite ginger ale — Vernors; we lived near Detroit — failed to stem the nausea.

Back then, sunscreen was barely heard of; skin cancer rarely mentioned.

Now I favor hats and long, loose clothing to spare my skin in the summer.

But their protection doesn’t help when it comes to tolerating heat of the sort we’ve been having lately.

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