I’ll be honest, I used to think allergies and heat strokes were for the weak at heart. I saw them as psychosomatic urban myths, brought on by the more serious condition of having no spine.
But then I moved to Austin and discovered the unique torture that is cedar fever, and then I spent last July in Montana with day after day of 100+ degree heat.
Wow. It was hot in Montana last summer.
One day in particular was distinctly painful. I went for a run at high noon, and to tell you the truth, I never really bounced back from that error in judgment. Call me Icarus but I really thought I was immune to the heat. I’m from Texas for heavens sake.
Texas, where we have air-conditioning.
Dripping in sweat and hubris I still assumed I would bounce back in time to go fishing. Later that day, we assembled a motley crew at the river, waiting for the sun to ease up a bit before we launched our early evening float. We knocked about town trying to cool off indoors, but to no avail. The heat was making me feel sick in a way I really couldn’t shake.
We wandered down to the Trout Shop since they had the best air-conditioning in Craig, but it still wasn’t getting the job done. I was languishing on a bench, melting against a wall of waders. I must have looked fairly peeked – not to mention a total deterrent for paying customers – because they scooped me up and placed me in the beer cooler.
Finally a bit of relief! I perched on a produce box and tried to breathe in as much of the frosty air as I could, a weak attempt to cool myself from the inside-out. Customers on the other side would open the glass doors to select a six-pack, and I would startle them by handing them the one they were reaching for just before they grabbed it. It was a hoot. Things were looking up.
But the moment I was summoned from the beer cooler, I felt sick again. I definitely wasn’t up for rowing anyone down the river. I’m not sure why we didn’t pull the plug on the whole operation, because frankly everyone was feeling gamy and the general mood was pretty sour. But for some reason we decided to pile four adults plus Little Chick into one skiff.
About fifteen minutes into this debacle, it was pretty clear I was either going to faint or throw up. So I scooted up to the very front of the boat and curled up in the fetal position on the floor. The knee-lockers had been removed so whenever I did open my eyes, I had a clear view of the bright blue evening sky and my mother’s fly line whizzing back and forth over my head. I probably should have been in a hospital with an IV at this point, but hey, she was keyed-in on rising fish that were keyed-in on caddis fluttering all around us.
Eventually my team took pity on me, albeit begrudgingly. We rowed back up to the ramp where we put in, canceled our shuttle and raced home. I don’t remember much else except shivering in bed and waking up the next morning with the worst headache of my life.
Needless to say I was benched for the next few days.
To cheer up the heat stroke victim, Little Chick had her own stroke of genius. She recruited my mother, and together they announced we were all going to bake cupcakes. Ugh! Normally I don’t get involved with the grandmother-granddaughter cooking adventures (I am not at home in the kitchen) but I was bored out of my mind and decided it was better to bake cupcakes than to bake myself in the sun again.
Strangely, we all got really into it. I can’t think of any activity, other than fishing, that would have kept the three of us bicker-free for three whole days. My mother and Little Chick did all the cooking, and I was the master decorator. I focused solely on fishing-themed cupcakes, and I have to say, I think I discovered a latent talent. Who knew I had such skills with icing?
For days we went all over the canyon delivering our fly-fishing cupcakes. Everyone was very polite and mustered up the proper gratitude, but I’m pretty sure they were whispering behind my back, assuming I’d finally lost my mind from the heat.
Perhaps. But tell the truth, who doesn’t crave a little sweet treat after getting baked on the river?
Plus, these cupcakes were medicinal.