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Four Years at the Mount

Junior year

Once Upon a Heat Wave

Nicole Jones
Class of 2014

(8/2012) Weíve all experienced those days when the miserable heat and even worse humidity makes it feel as if we really could be melting. This is the story of one of those days.

*Buzz buzz* I reluctantly open one eye and seek the culprit that ruined my perfectly good dream. Of course, itís the alarm on my phone telling me that 9 oíclock is far too late to sleep in on a perfectly good summer day. I pacify the alarm and tumble out of bed, reaching for my tennis shoes and a hairband. A quick stretch and Iím off on my morning run. When I open the door a wall of humidity and heat stops me in my tracks. Whatís the relative humidity today? 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Thatís just ungodly.

A half hour later Iím soaked from head to toe in sweat, and I revel in the basementís cool air as I return indoors. Heading upstairs to the kitchen for a glass of water, I notice the temperature is something similar to what I would expect to feel radiating from an oven. I check the air conditioner. Itís making a horrible sound, like itís grinding up pebbles, and it spits out a pitiful stream of lukewarm air. Mom will be thrilled. I call her and let her know that our faithful air cooling contraption has finally kicked the bucket. She tells me sheís already called the repair man to come out and replace it.

It suddenly seems crucial that I have that glass of water and return to the basement where itís 20 degrees cooler. The television is already on and displaying a golf game, courtesy of my grandparents who still arenít quite sure how to turn the TV off and resort to muting it instead. They drove up from North Carolina for a weeklong visit in order to attend my cousinís outdoor wedding...which is today. Hopefully we donít all melt before she says, "I do."

I check my email, watch a quick show, and before I know it, it is noon and time to bring the horses in. Stepping back outside I feel the full force of the dayís heat which has culminated into a stuffy haze thick enough to cut. A post I saw on Facebook suddenly seems perfect: "Satan called. He wants his weather back." Hopping on the RTV, I ride down our gravel road to the barn, where the two horses stand looking miserable as they swish their tails at the flies that are swarming around them.

The moment I walk into the barn and start setting up the stalls Ė putting hay in the corners and water in the buckets Ė a curious head pops in over the open Dutch doors. My mare, Ruby, desperately wants relief from this heat. I open the door for her, and she eagerly walks in, immediately sticking her nose in the water Iíve prepared. Three, four, five gulps later, and she has already drunk half the bucket. I plug in an overhead fan, and she positions herself under it, closing her eyes. Thatís my cue to leave her alone.

I prepare the second stall and walk out into the far pasture to retrieve our only other horse, Bravo. Since heís completely blind, we keep him separate from Ruby, who can be a bit rambunctious. His head perks up, ears twitching in my direction as he hears me unclip the chain on the gate. He takes a couple hesitant steps towards me, proving to me just how eager he is to go inside out of the sun.

With both horses comfortably inside the barn, I head back up to the house where my grandfather greets me, obviously unconcerned about preparing for my cousinís wedding as instead he is dutifully watering the plants which wilt in protest to the extreme heat.

Inside the house, things arenít nearly as carefree. The morning has raced by, my parents are home from work, and itís time for everyone to get ready for the wedding. A simple enough task, you may say, but not when the AC is broken and your parents insist it is too hot upstairs to prepare in their own bathroom. In the time it has taken me to shower my mom has moved into my bedroom; by the sounds of it, my dad did the same thing to my brother.

Iím sure it would have been comical to watch as the five of us race in and out of our little bathroom. I dove in to gather an armful of supplies in the hopes of avoiding the chaos and preparing in my bedroom. My mom walks in behind me and promptly jumps in the shower, and my grandmother lurks outside the door hoping I can help her with her necklace. My dad waits for the shower while my grandfather sits on the couch, the only one who is ready and unperturbed by all the commotion. Hot air fills my room as my mom and I dry our hair, and I canít be sure but the fumes from the hairspray may be suffocating me. Suddenly, everyone is in the car but me as Iím left cramming my feet into heels and hopping out the door in pursuit.

When we arrive at the venue, I procrastinate getting out of the car. It is four oíclock and sweltering; I just want one more minute of the carís air conditioning before I sweat. We are ushered to the propertyís garden, where rows of white chairs await us. A small basket filled with programs sits along the garden path; everyone is sure to grab one Ė who turns down a free fan? Though there are certainly people here from the brideís side of the family, as many people as possible squeeze into the groomís side where there is just the slightest bit of shade from a neighboring tree. We are no exception.

The music starts and the bridesmaids trickle down the aisle, each one walking just a little faster than the last, until the bride herself emerges with her father. Despite the wretched heat, she looks beautiful in a simple, understated gown and bird cage hair piece. Throughout the ceremony, my program is put into good use as I fan myself, achieving a breeze that is weak but welcome. I feel and probably look as if Iíve walked under a waterfall. My fellow guests arenít any better off as everyone fans themselves and dabs their foreheads with tissues. Weíre all more than grateful that everything is said and done in about 20 minutes, and we canít get inside fast enough.

Much to my delight, the rest of the evening is spent talking and eating, making speeches and taking pictures in the cool of the banquet hall. The only reason to step back outside into the heat wave is to leave, which we do around eight oíclock. Itís early, but my mom and I still have hungry horses to feed, and Iíd prefer to get home before theyíve destroyed the barn.

The horses are whinnying as we pull up, not understanding what could have possibly been so important that we had to feed them this late. Under the breeze of the fans, theyíve obviously recovered from their heat induced comas as they paw impatiently for another pile of hay to replace the ones theyíve eaten.

Around 9:30 pm, my mom and I are finally able to walk into the house and stay there. A long day of sweating has made me thirsty; as I head upstairs for a drink, I notice the air conditioner was replaced while we were out. Instead of the delightful oven temperatures I experienced earlier, it now feels like Iíve been dropped into a freezer. I like it better that way.

Read other articles by Nicole Jones