Another Scorchah

As the title of this post indicates, today is another hot one for Maine, complete with a heat advisory warning. The heat index values are projected to be from 95°F to 100°F. Because we live inland, I’ve no doubt we will be on the 100°F side of things.

Here was the temperature yesterday afternoon. Note: The thermometer is in the shade.

Recently, I read that more people die from heat than they do from cold. I was a little surprised to learn this, but after discussing it with Clif, I understood. With the cold, you can bundle up to keep warm, and small structures, ranging from igloos to tents, will trap body heat. Sleeping bags will keep you toasty even in frigid weather.

There is no real equivalency for coping with extreme heat.  It is true that insulation and building color make a difference, but they only go so far.  We human beings are not equipped to deal with high heat.

Except we have no choice. Temperatures are rising, and those of us who are older know from first-hand experience that the weather is much hotter now than it was when we were growing up. Those old days are gone, and we must cope, which no doubt will involve air conditioners for folks like us who never thought they’d need them.

From time to time I have wondered if Clif and I have been too extreme in our response to climate change. Unless there is some sort of emergency, we will not fly. We severely limit our driving. Rare is the day when we leave Winthrop—good thing we live in such a sweet little town with a great library, a grocery store, and a brewery that has become a gathering place. Every two weeks or so, we drive to Augusta, a small city and the state’s capital. We pick up things that we can’t get in Winthrop and meet with friends at a local café for coffee and tea. We have a farm share with our own Farmer Kev and receive bi-weekly deliveries of fresh veggies from his farm. Finally, we don’t eat beef (or any other meat), whose production is a huge source of greenhouse gas.

But with the heat wave that has hit the country, I realize we have not been too extreme. Rather, we are not extreme enough. We should replace our gas hot water heater with an electric one. We should add more insulation to the attic to help reduce the amount of fuel we use. We should replace all our windows, which are the original ones from when our fifty-two-year-old home was built. And topping the list of all those shoulds: We should be driving an electric car.

Scorching heat leads to sobering thoughts, and to lighten the tone, I’ll end with some pictures of flowers and my gardens, which are still looking their best. Somehow, even during this time of climate crisis, we can be delighted by flowers and things that grow.


74 thoughts on “Another Scorchah”

  1. I do hope the intensity of the heat diminishes soon. It gives me hope to know there are people like you and Clif who are doing your best to move lightly on the earth – there is always more we can do isn’t there.
    Your flowers are gorgeous – what a joy!

  2. Your yard is lovely and looks welcoming. A nice place to sit if it weren’t so hot. It sounds like you’re doing the best you can to do your part to influence the environment in a positive way.

  3. You are for sure doing more than most. We do what we can but must admit we haven’t gotten to your level of contribution to the solution. We do what we can and hope that each donation by each household may help although I think there is a long way to go. Your flowers look beautiful, and I know you must smile as you look out at them. Notice, I said ‘out’ because I’m assuming you’re inside like I am. 🙂

    1. The important thing is to start, to think about what we are doing. From there, it will ripple outward. We began by giving up beef, which wasn’t that hard for us. I do question how many grazing animals this planet can support. It seems to me that we don’t want them to go extinct, but what is the right number? Nothing is ever easy, is it? In the meantime, we don’t eat beef.

  4. Every little bit we can do to help makes a difference Laurie and I hope you’ll have some cooler weather soon. Your garden looks lovely with the Summer greens and flowers! 💛

  5. Laurie, I admire you, so much, for all you do for this planet of ours. Unfortunately, all those things on your list of “things you should do” cost money. LOTS of money. So you can be forgiven for not getting to them all right away. Wouldn’t it be great if governments and companies got together and made the greener choices easier to make? If I ran things, I would make it so. lol

    Anyway, I did have a question about the water heater. Is a gas water heater known to be worse for the environment? We recently got the ability to have gas, and the next time we need a new water heater, we will have a choice.

    Your garden is spectacular! It looks so fresh and inviting. We were at 96 today, so I’m feeling a bit of your pain, but not really, because I am used to it. My mom son and brother’s family are in Maine this week and are doing A LOT of swimming.


    1. Thanks, Jodie! How I wish you ran things. Yes, those improvements are expensive, and we have a budget as big as a minute. Otherwise, they would have all been done by now. As for a gas heater…it burns a fossil fuel and thus pumps carbon into the atmosphere. Electricity, at least, has the potential to be produced by green energy. When our heater goes, it will be replaced with an electric one.

      With summers so hot, everyone in your area must have AC. Not so in Maine, although I think that has changed.

      Sounds like your mom and family are in the right place—the water.

      1. Thanks, Laurie, for the water heater/ electric info. That makes good sense.

        Re: AC – we only have window units, and I am sure that some people don’t even have that. But it is still much more prevalent here than in Maine.

        Did you hear about the downburst in Belgrade Lakes yesterday? My family was on the porch (on the lake) next to Day’s store and watched it coming over the lake. They were taking videos and suddenly it was hail and chaos and they ran inside. No one was hurt, but their dock blew away and 4 huge trees on either side of them were uprooted. So glad they weren’t out on the boat!

      2. Yes, I did hear about he downburst in Belgrade. Holy cats! It didn’t even rain in Winthrop, and we aren’t that far from Belgrade. So glad no one was hurt. And, yes, very good they weren’t out on the boat! I guess tree clean-up is in order.

  6. The changes in the climate are so troubling, Laurie. I laud you for being willing to alter your own lifestyle. I fear that all unless all countries take this seriously and come up with a global solution, the future looks very grim. But each of still needs to do what we can.

  7. I read that in the UK, the climate cost of keeping our houses warm and dry is a huge part of our harmful emissions. Improvements to heating and insulation are much needed but on the whole, we still don’t need to worry about air conditioning yet.

  8. A great list, Laurie. We all need to do what we can– I believe that collectively, we can make a difference.
    Your garden and patio look so welcoming – who needs to go out when you have such a beautiful yard to hang in? 🙂

    1. I hope so, Eliza. Sometimes I feel as though I’m just a tiny stone in a giant stormy ocean. As for the patio…it is our happy spot.

  9. Your garden is looking lovely, and nice to see the warm temperatures from winter in NZ! We are thinking of getting a new car, and the idea of an electric one cropped up but there are things stopping us – first of all how to charge it, given we park our car on the road and do not have a garage. Second – most cars here (if not all) are imported from Japan as we drive on the same side of the road. The car industry there is not moving to electric cars, only hybrids. I think so many of these ideas are wonderful but just not practical for many of us, or even just cost prohibitive.

  10. Watching the news I continue to be shocked at all the extreme weather conditions and so many records being broken before we’ve even reached July. It’s inspiring to read all the changes you’re considering and the ones you’ve already achieved.🙂

  11. Yup. We share one car here-check. We won’t fly unless it is an emergency-check. Also, we try not to buy new clothes…..your garden and patio is lovely!

  12. That red day lily is such a beauty!
    We have been gradually working on our house to reduce our fuel consumption and improve the insulation. All these things cost money so the improvements can’t be done quickly. We have changed all our windows and doors and also the garage door which was totally inadequate. We have re-insulated the loft/attic and had all the pipes up there re-lagged. We changed our gas boiler four years ago when the old one failed. All this has reduced our fuel consumption amazingly. Now we find we must consider full electric heating which is a worry because of the amount of power-cuts we get. Electricity is expensive. I believe that this country won’t be able to provide enough electricity for all our needs by the time we all have to give up gas and oil heating and drive electric cars. Solar power and wind power on their own can’t do it and so many people object to nuclear power! What to do!? We personally can’t afford to put solar panels on our roof and I know they would make a big difference to the amount of electricity we would need to buy from the big companies.
    I do hope your high temperatures go away soon. Today we struggled to get up to 13C! Not very warm for the last day of June 🙂

    1. Thanks, Clare. Lilies are my second favorite flowers. (Irises are my first.) As for the rest…you have certainly hit the nail on the piton, as we Franco-Americans would say. While individuals must do what they can, the way you have, governments must also step up to the plate and support alternative energy with as much zeal as they have supported the fossil fuel industry. With the right support, your home might have solar panels on the roof. Ours, too. On a happier note, the temperature has dropped. Thank heavens!

  13. Richard and I have also significantly reduced our meat intake and our driving. But as you wisely note, there is still much more that we can do. Thank you for this important reminder.

    1. We started our journey slowly, first giving up beef and then rippling outward from there. The important thing is to be aware and to start, which you and Richard have done. Onward, ho!

  14. We have drought and you are enduring the heat – both clear signs of climate change, if only those who poo-poo the concept would take note.Your garden is a joy to behold!

  15. I am saddened to hear about your extreme heat wave which must be very difficult to cope with. It was hot here yesterday afternoon but at least 10 degrees centigrade lower than your place and I spent the afternoon indoors! We could all do more to combat climate change but we also need help from Governments and big business – better public transport, more electric car charging points. A friend who heats her home with a large woodstove was recently offered central heating in her home on a government grant but to her amazement it was OIL FIRED! She refused! I think we all have to do what we can and be mindful of the issues when we make decisions. Meanwhile take joy from your garden which looks wonderful.

    1. Yes, yes! Sometimes I wonder if what I do makes any sense at all when what we really need is a huge systemic change. But I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t live my life in accordance to what I think is right. Somehow, to party like it’s 1979 just doesn’t make any sense. And good for your friend for turning down oil fired central heating. What. The. Heck.

  16. I agree we could do more about climate change, in Australia we are not doing enough, although in Canberra almost every house has solar panels now…it makes sense with our hot summers.
    You and Clif are setting an example for the rest of us, you are doing plenty, and as we say in Australia ”Good on you!”

    1. Thanks so much! And how wonderful to read that in Canberra almost every house has solar panels. Do you have them? And, if so, have you found that that they make a significant difference with your energy bills?

      1. yes, but we bought our solar panels when they were offering low prices as incentives to get more people to buy them…and it worked!

      2. Well, they only did it for a while, it is now more expensive to install, but at least they gave us a head start.

  17. We’ve been following news of the Heat Wave … for some reason, the reporting mostly talks about what’s happening in the Northwest. I just told Loving Husband you have been dealing with high temps as well.

    Take good care.

  18. There I was, under the impression it was the NW suffering the extreme heat and you’re a long way from there. It is worrying Laurie and I applaud all that you are doing. Our latest initiative is an electric car, still researching but I think it will happen. Stay cool and enjoy your beautiful garden 😊

    1. The North East, too! Perhaps it’s more unusual for the North West, which is why it’s getting coverage. But this certainly isn’t normal weather for Maine. Except now it is. Sigh.

      Oh wonderful that you will probably be getting an electric car. That is our dream.

  19. Hi Laurie, it has been hot here as well, even more so inland. Today is a bit cooler but with even more humidity. We remain dry so hope the promised rain materializes.
    It is a challenge to find ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Sadly, disability often means driving more rather than less. I suspect our home utilizes much more energy than our car. When we were searching for a house two years ago we were looking to downsize but ended up with a larger house as choices were few and this house was the only one that was remotely accessible. It is all very complex. Still, kudos on doing what you can to stem the tide.

    1. Hope the rain and cooler weather have come your way. It is raining in Maine, and the temperature is 60. What a relief!

      It is complex. To me, it sounds as though you are doing what you can in your specific situation. And I think those with disabilities should get a little bit of a pass. Probably a self-serving attitude as I have arthritis in my knees and can’t walk the way I once could. Still, I stick pretty close to home and combine errands as much as possible. And that electric car is like a shimmering, albeit expensive, dream.

    1. Terrible! But today it is 60 and raining. Just what we need. One half inch so far, and I’m hoping for at least an inch before it ends.

  20. Your flowers! I tell myself through these warm summers (although this one is warmer than usual) are good for the gardens and flowers. I feel relieved every time I turn the nozzle on my rain barrel to water my flowers – I love that we’re able to capture the rainwater and use it when we need it.

    Matthew is planning to buy a truck for his 40th birthday in a few years. He’s very excited about the prospect of the Electric Ford Truck being ready!

    1. Wonderful to have a rain barrel. I have been thinking of getting one. In truth, we’ve never needed one. There has always been abundant rainfall in Maine, and no need to water perennials. But times are changing.

      Yay for an electric! What a great 40th birthday present.

  21. Here in the UK the government is saying that (with some minor exceptions) all cars sold from new must be electric. We don’t have the infrastructure to cope with that yet, but I guess it will come. But the US is more reliant on cars than we are, and distances are much greater. What do you think are the prospects for electric cars in your country?

    1. Wonderful that the UK is going electric! Very, very slow in the U.S. But in the North East, there are lots of new charging stations. Also, by 2025 many new cars will be electric based on what manufactures are telling us. But who knows? Can’t come soon enough as far as I’m concerned. And, the prices will have to go down for everyday folks to afford them.

  22. The northwest has been unbelievably hot too, Laurie. Smashing through records. All of us need to do more, but I don’t know if it will be enough anymore. A full scale national/global initiative is our only way out of this, I believe.

    1. Yes. Sigh. Will it happen? Only time will tell. Even though it might not make much difference in the end, I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t do my darnedest to reduce my carbon output.

  23. The climate news is indeed grim. You are right to take those personal steps you can to mitigate the crisis. In the meantime, I appreciate your daylilies.

  24. We are expecting some heavy rains tonight after a couple of unusual warm days. Your garden looks beautiful.

  25. The garden looks lovely. I’m sorry you’ve been so badly affected by the heat, and feel for Canada too. You do well to minimise your footprint and by writing about it, because the more we hear, the more we are inclined to change. Our changes will not make enough difference, but we have to change despite knowing that. I have not had a car for eighteen months and I really don’t miss it. Of course it is much more difficult to get places, so I may not be able to hold out forever.

    1. I fear you are right about personal changes, but I have to do what I can. I wouldn’t feel right otherwise. I’m impressed that you can get by without a car. Wish we could.

  26. Laurie, I share your concerns about the planet. I know this . . .it is much hotter now than it was when I was growing up! We did not have AC-in the south-then, and we were fine! Not so now, though I will say, so far so good here this year. Truth is, we lived greener then! Everything came in glass=that we turned in for 2 cent a product. Nobody drove unless it was necessary(we all farmed and raised our food). Folks did not collect stuff, to fill a house and we used soap and maybe a very few more products only! TV was reserved for news and a few shows on the weekend only-clothes were never dried in a dryer-you get the point. There is so much to be done now. Gosh, the food industry ought to stop their packaging habits, at least! I have really changed my ways and buy recycleable as much as I can . . but still can’t do that every time! I often talk about you carrying mason jars to the store!! If we all did something, what a difference we could make. I have stuck to my vegetables!! at least haha! love Michele

    1. My daughter and son-in-law live in Asheville, and it has been cooler there than it has Maine. You wrote “There is so much to be done.” How true! And it does have to be a system-wide approach. For example, you mentioned that when you were young, everything came in glass that you turned in for 2 cents a product. This is something that the companies controlled. Of course, we can advocate for these things. We can also stop buying and using so much. Not easy, even for a green bean like me. I am not immune to the lure of new and pretty things. 😉 Anyway, onward, ho! It gives me great comfort to know that there are people like you out there, taking the situation seriously, doing the best that we can.

  27. Climate change is showing up in scary ways indeed. I read this week that many of the creatures in our lakes and oceans are being cooked alive in the hot waters. I hear you about the various ways in which you are trying to be more mindful of your impact on the environment. We are trying too and I wish we could all (including big businesses) do a lot better.

    1. Oh, gosh! As I wrote in my piece, with the situation we’re in, we can’t be too extreme. But nobody, of course, is the perfect environmentalist. Still, we must do what we can, as I know you and your family are doing.

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