Fujichia

Moving Slowly Through Heat

2021/08/31
TO AMBLE / WIND DIY / JANGLING STAFF / HUGE ICED COFFEE WITH MARGARET / LOCAL POLLINATORS / FUCK PARKING / EERIE FOUNTAIN / SKELETON DREAM / BEVERAGE CARRIERS / THEN HOME / LINKS
I got dropped off at the post office Wednesday with a huge mountain of outgoing packages, and even though it was early it was already really hot out. I left the post office unburdened and then sat on the steps sweating for a little bit, just remembering what it's like to be outside, and trying to decide if I was going to go home immediately to a cold shower and the rest of my coffee, or if I was going to amble around a little bit, in celebration of the weightless aftereffect of a task completed. I chose to amble. There's a certain spot on the temperature / humidity index where taking a walk is my favorite way to deal, and anyway it beats sitting around in a torpor.

My trick to existing in windless August heat is to seek shade when possible but not to hang out there-- to stay in a low and steady cruise, moving slowly through heat. I find there's an ideal speed where a light wind is produced by movement through still air, and it's just enough to cool me down. If I go any faster, then I'm working too hard, and I heat up. If I stand still, that's no good, I start pouring sweat. But at this Goldilocks speed the air is moving around me just enough to help the sweat evaporate, and the amount of energy I'm expending is just low enough that I don't entirely counterbalance the cooling effect, and it's a little bit better than standing still.

image Moving at the ideal speed for heat abatement is not a natural speed for me, and I really have to set my mind to it, and the way I set my mind is by thinking "move slowly though heat". I think about being an elderly travelling monk, moving slowly through a town or forest with a jangling pewter staff to announce my presence and ward off tigers. With each step the rings on top of the staff jangle briefly then return to quiescence-- that's about how slow your steps should be. I also think about walking down Park Ave in Worcester with my old roommate Marge, drinking syrupy 48oz iced coffees from styrofoam cups, the ice jostling back and forth in a hypnotic rhythm, for what I remember as an entire day that went from late spring to summer to early fall, but really it was just one day. The ice sloshes and rattles and stops, and that's how slow your steps should be, with a 48oz iced coffee. Moving at such a slow speed really changes your awareness, I recommend it. You're neither just passing through nor hanging around.

I walked up Broadway and though the side streets, looking at the flowers and listening to the outside sounds. On some blocks the main sound was the buzzing of local pollinators. Some blocks it was air conditioning. The cafes had people on the sidewalk, which I don't like-- that's my space, I walk there. One cafe had tables and chairs set up in a few parking spaces, and that I can respect. Fuck parking. I walked to the farthest cafe that wasn't yet "kind of far away"-- on the line between my side of town and downtown. I got a V8 and the lady at the coffee shop told me she got married to her long-term sweetie this summer, that's nice.

I thought I'd find a cool spot to sit and drink my V8 but there weren't a lot of places to sit down, and very few were in any type of shade. When I walked with Marge in Worcester we were on a dismal stretch made for cars to zoom from one stoplight to another, which sucks, but there's plenty of neglected zones to sit at and gossip and throw a rock at a thing. In this week's Providence heat I was solo, moving through a tightly packed mixed-use zone which is in many ways better than Worcester's Park Ave, but where the only options are to buy something or live there.

I sat for a sec on a bench at that little fountain near the Hell's Angels club house, but the shade was only dappled, not full, and sure enough I started pouring sweat as soon as I sat down, no good. And while I consider myself a great enjoyer of fountains, I don't like the fountains in this town. There's some tradition about a fountain downtown where if you drink from it you're destined to forever return to Providence, or in some tellings, to die in Providence. I don't like that. I know that this eerie tradtion is about only one fountain here but I don't remember which one, so I try and steer away from all of them just to be safe. I don't want to eternally return to this neighborhood only to watch everything turn into condos and brew pubs, I want to die in some mountain cave or deep gorge and turn into a nice open air skeleton, gripping a flute. I know, I know, "that's a lot of work". Well it's my dream OK???

Anyway I got up and kept moving through the back streets and the sweat dripped away and I sipped my V8, which I'll freely admit was a weird choice, but that's what I wanted. Someone told me that a huge advantage that humans have over other animals is that we sweat, which enables us to go long distances without overheating, as all other animals do. And we can afford to lose the water to sweating because we can carry our water externally, as few other animals can do. I guess when I think of the advantages of humanity I think about brain power-- it's cool that right there at the beginning it wasn't about outthinking anything, it was one weird trick (sweating), a steady determination, and like, a gourd full of water. The bison and ibex sprint their way to fatigue, and humanity jangles up at a casual pace, beverage in tow, saying what's up guy. When you think about it like this, the cup holder is the most important part of the car.

As for me, I didn't chase down any prey as such, but I did walk at a measured pace after something fleeting, then found it and ate it. It was a mood, or a wind, or a phase. Then headed back, towards my house, towards the square, towards the Silver Lake warp zone, towards the rest of my coffee, my cold shower, etc.. The weather broke since then but I recommend to anyone with the will for it to take a nice slow walk sometime.


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