What does our current heat wave have to offer us?

A key question that I hope this website helps answer is: how do we connect with nature, in all kinds of weather? How do we keep those connections strong, how do we understand what is characteristic of a season, how do we see the benefits and challenges which a particular kind of weather provides for those with which we share the planet? In the case of this summer, how do we understand what it is like for others to experience unusual weather – hot, dry – and how do we focus on what intriguing sounds and sights we can find in it?

 I admit that I have more experience closely watching winter weather than summer weather (I started with a site on appreciating winter, after all). But I want to help people appreciate what summer – what this summer – has to offer. And to spread the word about those who are exploring that question more deeply than I can.

 It can be a challenge to go out for extended periods in this weather. Be careful, don’t overheat, and drink enough fluids. But these are clear days, dry, sunny. There is a lot one can see. Other than the responses of our bodies, there is little in the weather (little rain, or mud, or cloudiness) that limits us from appreciating what is out there. So don’t forget to keep connecting! This is the world we have now, it is the world we have the chance to learn about and to become aware of our connections to.

 I can certainly think of a lot of examples of nature writers, and photographers, depicting themselves struggling with heat in the desert. But most of us don’t live in the desert. The heat we deal with is not one which we are compensated for by solitude, epic vistas, or unusual sights in a place where water had little recent role in shaping the landscape. So the task in Wisconsin is to feel the heat in places we are familiar with. Perhaps to go for walks later in the evening (or early in the morning), when things are cooler. I have been gratified to see the number of people out in the parks and on the bikepaths recently, coming together in public places to share the experience of being out in park nature.

 We can appreciate what shade and breeze have to offer. We can see how other species deal with the demands of the heat. Our many lakes offer a place to cool off near to, or within.

 What else can we do? I welcome suggestions…

About MilwaukeeSnow

Dr. Jeffrey Filipiak, Milwaukee's Ambassador of Snow, loves winter, Milwaukee, and environmental history! He has taught college courses on topics including history, writing, environmental ethics, food studies, the Great Lakes, and sustainability. You can contact him at ambassadorofsnow@gmail.com.
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