Hot and Humid Immersion

Wandering along the edge of a meadow and trying to stay in the shade on this scorcher of a day I come upon two does laying on their sides underneath a large sugar maple tree. At first I think they are dead but as I slowly approach they both pop up and lazily walk into the forest to avoid further attention. Typically deer lay on their stomachs when resting so that they can see potential predators but both of these does were lying on their sides; one laying on its right side and the other on its left side. By exposing more surface area to the cooler air in the shade they were likely lowering their body temperature. Deer do not sweat. They cool themselves by panting, immersing themselves in water, and by finding shade out of the hot sun. They also limit exercise which makes the body work and raises their body temperature. My male bloodhound Cooper is on a lead as I walk about. Adia, our female bloodhound, is back in our relatively cool house.

I do not intentionally let my hounds chase deer or other wildlife. Occasionally Adia will get off her lead and chase a wild animal. In hot weather she heats up pretty quick and gives up the chase. That is a good thing. Animals that have to use their flight mechanism in hot weather can end up in a highly stressed condition. It they can’t cool themselves it can cause serious harm. Eastern coyotes rely upon this during warm weather. They work in teams, thereby not exhausting themselves, to run down their prey which eventually overheats and has to stop running. It is a savage world. Only those who are most clever survive predation. Hot summers and deep snow in winter may be two of the times that deer are most vulnerable to becoming coywolf barbeque.

Next I walk across an area of open field where the temperature is well into the high 90 degree Fahrenheit range. The humidity index is over 70%. The air is thick, there is virtually no breeze, sweat drains into my eyes from a sopped brow, and I remind myself that I really don’t like hot and humid weather. I’ll take 40 below zero with 50 mph winds before 95 degrees with 73% humidity any day of the week. This man was not made for hot weather. My large body mass is like a large solar collector. If you could mount solar panels on my back I could power the City of Boston! After about a quarter of a mile in the open sun and pushing myself through thick goldenrod and brambles Cooper and I emerge into the shade on the other side. I am both sweaty and bloody. The brambles have cut my legs in a couple of hundred places. I look down to a mess of blood, sweat, and ticks. About a dozen of the creepy critters are scrambling around on my bare legs in hopes of latching on. I pick them off one by one. Three are dog ticks and the the other eight are deer ticks. I also pull a few dog ticks off of Cooper. He turns over on his back so that I can inspect his belly. I kill each tick as I pick them off by squeezing them between the vice-like grip between my fore finger and thumb. I really don’t mind killing ticks. If others feel differently I have no problem with that either. Cooper licks the wounds on my legs; a gesture of love in return for me gleaning the ticks from his coat of fur.

The shade is at least ten degrees cooler but still 90 something degrees. I sit down on a large schist rock that leans against a red oak tree. I am looking west back across the meadow. I can see our trail of packed grass and pummeled plants where we left a wake of temporary destruction behind. The furrowed path wanders and absolutely avoids a straight line. Our course was neither efficient or the shortest point between two lines. However we did manage to avoid some of the worst thorn thickets and Cooper got to investigate an interesting scent or two. A pileated woodpecker calls in the distance; it sounds like some sort of exotic African bird. Looking into the forest I can see the giant bird glide through the trees. It’s wings only flap once in a span of 100 feet. It is hunting for food; excavating wood at a rate of what seems to be 40,000 taps a second in search of come good insect larvae, or better yet, adult insects. The loud rappity-rap-rap makes a good rhythm and could be the beat to almost any aboriginal tune. Cooper rolls in the duff covering himself with dust much like a horse would on a hot and humid day. I can only suppose this somehow helps him to keep cool but I am puzzled as to how this works.

Done resting we move off into the woods. We will move slowly today. The heat remains oppressive. Perhaps our pace will allow me to see more wildlife.

Neither I nor Cooper the bloodhound wants to be hot on the trail (as bloodhounds are so often). It’s one of those days when a cold, slow trail would be preferred.

Written for www.wildramblings.com in June 2012.

  • Teresa Evangeline

    You have such beautiful places to walk! Love those meadow areas.  I’d love to walk right into that last photo and head downhill. Your descriptions are vivid and inviting.

    A few coyotes were calling from the meadow two evenings ago, trying to sound as though in distress, hoping, I suppose, to lure Buddy out there. I’m glad I keep him tethered when he’s outside, unless we’re on a walk.

    I was wondering if I should trim his fur coat a bit due to the heat, but read that their fur actually aids them in hot weather, as an insulation helping to keep them cool, and that it’s a natural sunscreen, also. It made me wonder if dust doesn’t act in such a way, too. Just a thought.

  • http://gardenpath.wordpress.com/ Sandy

     We were lucky enough to have a sea breeze several days of the heat wave. Sop, only one day was really awful. I am with you, winter feels so clean, compared to hot weather. 

  • http://www.wildramblings.com Wild_Bill

     Many wild animals dust themselves in the summer.  I’m not quite sure how it helps keep them cool though, seems as though it would help trap body heat it. 

    Coyotes are clever, you likely have the western coyote where you live.  Buddy might hold his own, but not against a pack.  Our coyotes are part wolf and large.  No match for a 130 pound bloodhound unless it is severely outnumbered.  In any case, I wouldn’t want to find out.

    I live in a very, very beautiful area.  Old fields, deep woods, not so many people!

  • http://www.wildramblings.com Wild_Bill

     It is now fairly cool again so I have to stop my complaining!  It was a really, really beautiful day today.  Just picture perfect, if you know what I mean!

  • ssweeney

    95F + 80% humidity + full sun has me running to hid from the weather in a cave, and makes my friends in Algeria and Tanzania laugh their heads off. 

  • naquillity

    such beautiful country. love the way you take the reader into the woods with you & your bloodhound Cooper. it’s so refreshing. i can’t believe you picked all those ticks off so calmly though. i get the heeby jeebies thinking about it, lol. hope all is well. have a great night~

  • http://www.wildramblings.com Wild_Bill

    The northeast is crawling with ticks, especially deer ticks.  I have had lyme disease ten times, once for over six years.  I f you let yourself get too freaked out you would stay inside for the rest of your live.  And I do live in beautiful country……shhhhh, it is a secret!

  • http://www.wildramblings.com Wild_Bill

     Nice to hear from you here, Sue!  I can’t imagine the heat in northern Africa.  I once lived in the southwest.  Temps got into the 100′s daily but it didn’t feel that hot.  My mother lived in SC where it was 100 + with very high humidity.  It actually felt like you were in a pressure cooker!  If the weather stayed like that I’d be praying for winter!

  • Barbara

    Wonderful ramble Bill, but that heat – dogs and I take it pretty easy when it was that hot… I cooled them down with a hose while re-filling the little pond in the back yard… Thank goodness it is cooler today, enough that a fire inside might be welcome… such changes – climate change at work again! Human kind is having to work much harder to adapt these days… but it must be nearly impossible for animals and other creatures.

    Despite that, your photographs and your ramble are delightful, except I think, for the ticks and the brambles. 

  • http://www.wildramblings.com Wild_Bill

     Our short heat wave has passed.  Yesterday was unbelievably gorgeous, high temp of 74 with very low humidity.  Beautiful, bright blue sky too!  Today storms, a lot of rain, and high humidity with not so high temperatures.  The weather varies so much and do temper my adventures.  Brambles and ticks are a part of my daily life I’m afraid.

  • http://everyday-adventurer.blogspot.com/ Ratty

    I’ll be glad for the day when my dog calmly lets me check her for ticks. She still tries her best to get away. She was two years old when I got her, and she doesn’t trust men very much. She’s made huge improvements since I got her, but she still doesn’t trust me completely.

  • http://www.wildramblings.com Wild_Bill

     I’ve had dogs all my life Ratty, more than 60 years.  It takes time, especially when you haven’t had a dog since it was a pup.  Rub her belly, give her some treats.  She’ll learn to trust you because you can be trusted.

  • http://www.landingoncloudywater.blogspot.com/ Emily B

    Ah yes, humidity. I normally experience my fair share of it in a Minnesota June, but this year…Germany has been absent of the stuff. Can’t say I mind.

    Enjoyed this post, Bill! So fun to read your words across the big sea. :)

  • http://www.wildramblings.com Wild_Bill

     I’ve thought about you in Europe.  There is so much to see there it would take a lifetime.  Recorded history is much more accessible and it is downright strange to see houses built in the 1400′s! I can’t wait to read more about your experiences over there.

    As you likely know Minnesota has been hot, humid, and even very wet this month.  There were even floods in some locations (near Duluth I think).

  • http://findanoutlet.wordpress.com/ Dargosy

    Not many ticks here (though I’ve seen strays covered with them, probably from being weakened and trying to hunt in tall grasses) but other poisonous insects abound, plus rattlesnakes. I picked off thousands of ticks back east, and contracted Lyme disease too, but didn’t know it until it took over my body and I could not breathe. It was called babesiosis, a lesser known, more dangerous strain of Lyme disease. One of the sickest episodes of my life. It was from my part time weeding job of fussy CT yards, not the dogs.

    Twice one of my dogs (here in AZ) went into seizures, I believe it was from eating a toxic insect such as a scorpion. Tarantulas are spared as they hurt no one. I’m a firm believer in clipping dogs in the summer. Fur may be protective but not worth the suffering from the heat. Biting red ants also an issue here. Even the most beautiful places on earth are not perfect, it is up to us to adjust. We hear of dogs dying from rattlesnake bites and take them very seriously. Monsoon started a few days ago, and with it some welcome humidity. But the cloudy skies and lower temperatures compensate and will replenish the San Pedro. Though it’s an exciting time of year and desperately needed, there will be mudslides and flooding because of the fires. Sandbagging is a major activity at the moment. My heart goes out to those in CO, and all who are witnessing their environments destroyed.

    On another note, the horses we’re boarding love nothing better than a complete hose-down and then a good roll in the dirt! When it rains they become as frisky as colts! But oh the flies the horses’ final product engender, yikes! Free manure anyone? Please, take it away!

  • http://www.wildramblings.com Wild_Bill

     I always love your comments.  I have a question for you.  I know you have a lot of expertise with dogs.  I had one vet tell me that cutting a dogs hair in the summer made it hotter, and another said it would cool the dog down.  The second seemed to make more sense but perhaps not given they have an entirely different way of cooling off than humans.  What do you think?

    Babeosis is now considered a separate malady and a very serious one.  It requires different antibiotics than Lyme (for most people-not me given I am allergic to all tetracyclines).  Both make you horrifically sick if it goes unchecked.  I battled the disease for almost 7 years before finally wrestling it off its feet.  Those were a tough seven years and even now I still carry some lingering effects.

    I have two nieces that live in CO.  One near south of Boulder where there are some fires and one in Telluride where they have been lucky so far.  I keep hoping the fires near Ft. Collins (where I used to live) will get drowned by a long wash of rain.

    Hope all is relatively good with you Debra.  I think of you often.

  • http://alsphotographyblog.blogspot.com/ Al

    Nice photos. I’m not a fan of hot weather either. It’s been very hot here lately, in the 90s even at my house at 7,500 feet elevation, although our humidity is less than 10%. Of course this is making the large wildfire near our city impossible to control.

  • http://www.wildramblings.com Wild_Bill

     The fires you guys are experiencing in CO are unbelievable.  Keep me posted I’m very interested in how this all shakes out.  90′s isn’t too bad in low humidity, but still a little uncomfortable.

  • Manila Tour Packages

    Nice post and photos…I enjoyed reading the article!

  • http://www.wildramblings.com Wild_Bill

     Thank you!

  • http://www.wildramblings.com Wild_Bill

     Thank you!

  • Barb

    Oh Bill, I had to smile imagining you with solar panels on your back. The idea of all those ticks gives me the creeps! You are hot and humid and we are tinder-dry here in CO. It looks lush with greenery there. Stay cool if possible (and tick-free!).

  • http://findanoutlet.wordpress.com/ Find an Outlet

    I understand that animals pant rather than sweat, but wrapping up a dog in a blanket at 105 degrees is just cruel and would probably kill it, same as a hot car. They are mammals after all. Most vets here have grooming services and recommend clipping. Everybody here who actually cares for their dogs clips them in the summer. Think of the opposite, leaving them naked in the winter. The fur in summer would protect them from sunburn but we don’t want to get started on people who leave their dogs outside with no shade! People around town are saying they’ve never seen it so hot here—but I’m hearing rumbling of thunder as I write this so relief is on the way. Just got back from Mexico (cheap dentist) and it was even hotter there. Best of luck to your nieces.

  • http://www.wildramblings.com Wild_Bill

     Ticks are down right creepy!  Killed a couple today.  It has been cool for the last few days (70′s) but warmer more humid weather is expected for the weekend.  Nothing extreme, just more seasonal.  Good luck with the fires.  Being in CO is scary this summer.

  • http://www.wildramblings.com Wild_Bill

     Thanks for your thought on this.  I’m curious as to why there is debate over this.  Huskies suffer in the summer with their thick hair, especially where it is hot.  Same with Newfies (we used to have one-a rescue).  I could use a cheap dentist but it is one heck of a long way to Mexico!

  • http://findanoutlet.wordpress.com/ Find an Outlet

     Yeah, they’re not talking about Newfoundland, NJ!

  • http://mary-goingnative.blogspot.com/ Mary Pellerito

    What a great post.  A perfect way to spend a hot day.  We are starting to get some of those in Michigan.  My aim is to create a habitat in which wildlife feel comfortable.  You are an inspiration to me.

  • http://www.wildramblings.com Wild_Bill

     Thanks for stopping by.  In an upcoming article I’m going to write about creating wildlife habitat.  Even a small yard can be be made more wildlife friendly with some thought.  Your goal is admirable and I hope you enjoy every moment of planning and implementing this endeavor. Good luck!

  • Wendysarno

    Oh, I can feel the oppressive air, Bill. So familiar in our Missouri climate. What is rare is the high heat and low humidity we are experiencing right now. 110 yesterday with 13% humidity. A desert climate not for this land between two big rivers. Tomorrow I head out with a group for an early morning wander in the woods. Water bags of human skin carrying our water on our backs. I intend to move slow. Stay cool up there.

  • Wild_Bill

     Since I wrote this we had a streak of cool weather but now its heating up again, but like where you are, without a lot of humidity (50%).  Not too bad.  Long walk on dirt road this morning to massage my, once again, ailing back.  There was a light breeze to help keep us cool.  The hounds had to stop by the brook a few times to rehydrate and cool off.

    I’ve been to MO. and I know how hot and humid it can get.  Kind of like Mississippi with elevation!

  • http://findanoutlet.wordpress.com/ Find an Outlet

    One more note on this Bill, then I promise to drop it! It occurred to me this morning as I performed my daily summer sweeping of dog and cat hair on every surface inside and out…then amassed a shopping bag full of dog hair after brushing Jewel. The fur comes off in great clumps. Why would they shed? Ask Mother N…

  • http://www.wildramblings.com Wild_Bill

     True.  Some dogs also have to shed last years undercoat to make room for a fresh batch of insulation for next winter.  I cannot think of a better time to lighten the load in preparation for the upcoming winter season.

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