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Kevin Courtney

Napa Valley Register City Editor Kevin Courtney.

Who can complain about a mere heatwave when a large swath of Texas is underwater?

I can.

Temps well over 100 degrees during the Labor Day weekend robbed me of my holiday. No Bay Area person without air conditioning can function in that kind of heat.

The whole weekend I essentially did nothing. Where does one go, what does one do when outdoor temperatures suggest Fresno, Vegas, Hades?

I spent a ridiculous amount of time peering out the laundry room window, monitoring our new thermometer’s frightening ups and desultory downs.

For the record, this is an “uncalibrated” thermometer, direct from the factory. If I knew how to calibrate it I would, but I don’t, so technically I am not qualified to be an official weather monitor.

That said, the high reading on my back porch on the Friday kicking off the Labor Day bake-off was 112 degrees. I’ve made brownies in ovens cooler than that.

I’ve never lived anywhere where the temp hit 112, not even my school years in Alabama and Tennessee where things could get toasty, but never that toasty. In my America, 112 means Death Valley.

When things got bad in the deep South, I could take off my shirt, run around, get sweaty, swig a Coke and end up feeling good about life.

Last weekend none of those options were on the table.

Yes, conditions were cooler indoors than out, but that was of limited comfort. I couldn’t shed the stark fact that the scorching miasma had me surrounded. I could feel it seeping in.

Cheryl was more functional than I. She made a curry dish for dinner.

Who eats curry in a heatwave? We did. As they do in India.

It was a perfectly fine curry. It had a nice kick to it. Unfortunately, the air pressing against our dining room windows was even more spicy.

I felt besieged by dragons. Dragons with stinky breath.

Super-hot air is its own awful thing, but why did it have to look and smell so bad? I never saw blue skies once. Cheryl said the murk smelled like dead animals. I likened it to yard fertilizer.

Bad air was swirling into Napa direct from the Central Valley. More bad air was coming down the coast and shooting through the Golden Gate. In effect, every god-forsaken place where a Napan would never consent to live was pumping its foulness our way.

From my thermometer perch in the laundry room I could monitor our lone peach tree. I could tell the tree was suffering. Overwhelmed by conditions, it jettisoned its fruit practically overnight.

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Nearby lay a flattened, stretched out Calico, too wasted to let out so much as a single meow.

A person can take only so much unrelenting heat. On Saturday afternoon I decided to strike a feeble blow for normalcy: Let’s go out for coffee!

Not ice cream. Not gelato. Coffee. Hot coffee.

Cheryl wasn’t initially game. Under these conditions, the idea of coffee didn’t sit right with her taste buds.

Please, please, please, I begged. We can even stop in and check out the new prices at Whole Foods.

That’s how we came to be at Peet’s, drinking cappuccinos.

Visiting an air conditioned business was like taking a little vacation. But for the hellacious heat bouncing off the cars in the parking lot, it could have been a December day.

That night we bolted for the Century Napa Valley to see “Dunkirk,” the WWII war movie.

Stuck on the beach in France, the Germans closing in, those British soldiers were in a real pickle. You could see desperation in their eyes.

Trapped by outrageous weather, I could identify.

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Kevin can be reached at 707-256-2217 or Napa Valley Register, 1615 Soscol Ave., Napa, 94559, or kcourtney@napanews.com.

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