Thursday, August 4, 2011

Your Leather Seats Aren't The Only Things That Are Too Hot

A Texan knows a thing or two about heat. We get baked every year by a relentless sun, and have adapted accordingly over the centuries.

We stop watering the grass in June.
We suffer under a burn ban every 4th of July.
We try to hit the lake, pool, sprinkler or slip n' slide to stay cool.
We arrange outdoor activities at other times of the year.
We take vacations to places that are temperate.
We eat different food in the summer so our oven doesn't heat the house more.
We live with our AC on full-blast.

But it occurred to me today that while humans are very adaptable even in the most extreme drought, our habitat is suffering outside these air-conditioned walls. The sun has finally shifted to the other side of the house so I opened my curtains today and saw a young male cardinal in the bush outside. The bush is in pretty bad shape, the leaves hanging limp against the rugged trunk trying to hang on for another few days of 110 degree weather. The cardinal stood on a branch and surveyed, mouth open, wings lifted looking for any cool spot to rest at the hottest part of the day. He's seriously distressed, and it's just from holding his little body upright.

I went to check the fountain in the back... that's right, my fountain is still running even though we're under severe water restriction. Someone has to provide water to the birds, folks. The fountain was full of beautiful green leaves that have been dropped by the pecan tree in the backyard. Right about then a strong wind blew and the tree seemed to be shedding leaves like tears above me, unable to cope with the heat and drought. We have been trying to rehabilitate that tree since the snowstorm 2 winters ago almost killed it, now another bout of intense weather threatens to finish the job.

And I sit in here complaining that my house won't cool below 80 for lack of insulation... sometimes we forget there is a world out there suffering the real effects of August. Birds and trees don't sweat. They can't post photos of the thermometer in their cars reading 120 on Facebook. They can't even find a lake to jump in right now to escape the heat.

Summer is a tyrant, but I'm done complaining about how inconvenient it's making my life. Suddenly it doesn't seem that important. Still think global warming isn't real? My pecan tree disagrees with you.

How can you help? Be smart about water. Don't flush the toilet each time you pee, conserve unless you've been eating asparagus. Stop watering during the day, period, and let go of watering your grass. It makes you look like a heartless bastard to people like me right now if you have lush, green grass. Put some bird food and a bird bath out and change the water often, the birds might thank you enough not to poop on your car. Live compassionately until we get some rain, then be an asshole again if you want.

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