I don’t tolerate heat well, which right now is a bitch, because Jersey is on the tail end of a heat wave. Temperatures have been in the nineties with oppressive humidity. I know for my southern friends, our heatwave would not be a big deal, but I get downright panicky and/or seriously crabby in the heat.
Tonight was particularly rough for a cold weather guy. I had rushed home after work (if you can call sitting for almost an hour in traffic “rushing”, because someone’s car had the bad taste to burn up on Route 78) in order to change clothes in time to participate, on behalf of the Post, in Flag Day Ceremonies held by the local Elks Lodge.
It is a moving ceremony in which the various flags of America’s history are marched before the crowd, while the narrator gives a brief history of each flag. This is followed by the retirement, by burning, of old flags that are no longer serviceable. The Elks, like the American Legion, collects flags from people throughout the year who want to properly dispose of them.
Our Post is the only one around that has a ceremonial firing squad, so we are regularly asked to participate in the Elks’ annual Flag Day event. As such, I got to spend the better part of the longish ceremony standing at attention in the sweltering heat, dressed in a white long-sleeved shirt, long pants and Legion Cap. When the flame was finally put to the flags, we fired three volleys and then presented arms while a bugler played “Taps.”
It may have been a moving ceremony, but I think I lost a couple quarts of water standing there. I’m not a Budweiser fan, but when it was over, I inhaled an ice-cold Bud, and it went down like well water.
Earlier in the day, I had taken my walk in the heat and humidity, which was less than pleasurable and required two bottles of water – one I brought with me and one I bought from a convenience store about three quarters of the way through the walk. During today’s walk of death, I could not help but notice the four-foot long antenna-like structures that are painted red and white and affixed to the fire hydrants in town. Their purpose is to permit fire fighters and everyone else to know where the fire hydrants are when the snow is high enough to bury them in the winter.
Those antenna-like things in today’s tropical heat served to remind me that, if you can live in Jersey, you can live anywhere.