In the matter of degrees Fahrenheit vs Centigrade, as in yards/feet/inches and pounds/ounces vs metres/centimetres/ and kilograms/grams, I'm ashamed to admit that mentally I still visualise the old rather than the 'modern' units of measurement. Australia converted to metric for most purposes during 1974, though the total conversion in all industries actually spanned a period of nearly 20 years due to the complexities involved in converting tools, road signs, speedometers etc. I originally migrated to Australia in 1969, before metric conversion, but was back in the USA for all of 1973. So I arrived back in Australia at the apex of the conversion timeline, and had to make that adjustment at the same time as many others. Perhaps I just consigned that one to the back burner, where it's still simmering.
For 'young' readers and those my age or older who have adapted more readily to all things metric, check the thermometer and you will see that 102°F translates to about 38.9°C (and I wish I'd thought to photograph it two days ago, when that was apparently the hottest day around here since recording began sometime in the 1800s). Having to use decimals to make a point about temperature just doesn't do it for me – though wait a minute, normal body temperature to me will forever be 98.6°F, and not 37°C, as my daughter knows it. And yet, I like to think of myself as a person who can adapt to changing circumstances, someone who has moved readily among different cultures and countries in both work and friendship. Am I self-deluding in this as in other areas, perhaps?
Let's just agree: it's been damned hot. We do have excellent roof insulation, and get good cross-breezes up here in our hinterland location. So it's usually much pleasanter in the house than outdoors. There are ceiling fans in every room – one of the first things we did after buying this place in 1996. And ten years later, we installed good air conditioners throughout the house, too – even in my outdoor studio. I doubt we'd have invested in these if my mother hadn't been coming to live here, because we were never really worried that much about the few days every summer when temperatures rose into the mid-90s. But I'm now very grateful for the impetus that Mum's coming provided. Maybe it's age, but I'm experiencing the ennui brought on by heat much more this year than ever before. Even so, I try only to resort to aircon when the temperature is roasting. And I must admit that my reasoning has as much to do with soaring electricity costs ($200/mo. when either heat or aircon is used liberally vs. $100/mo. in off-seasons) as with ecological consciousness.
Of course there's wonderful relief to be had in the pool. And until that 100° day earlier this week, we had been swimming every morning for the past week. It's no small effort to get Allen into his swimming togs and (safely) down to the pool terrace, then in and out of the pool when the surrounding surface is blisteringly hot and he feels every temperature variation so intently. Still, it's well worth the effort.
On our first swim just last week, Allen was quite literally overcome by joy, shouting out as he floated off, "Isn't this wonderful!" I think it's the freedom of movement he experiences in the water that gives him such pleasure, especially now that his mobility on land is so tentative and there's always the anxiety of falling. His balance and motor control are both very dodgy now. And though he still manages 15 minutes every morning on his exercise bike, he can no longer walk very far without succombing to exhaustion. I guess that's the result of insufficient exercise, poor circulation, age (he is, after all, 83) and, more likely, a combination of all of these plus the rampant disintegration of various areas of the brain. Everything from using a knife and fork to washing his hair in the shower requires some degree of supervision and, often, assistance. (He just can't remember that shampoo shouldn't be applied while the head is under the stream of water, or that a soapy head then needs to be rinsed.) It's no wonder that floating freely in the pool gives him such pleasure.