Here in Manhattan, as across much of the northeastern United States, we’ve had record-breaking highs this week.
By late Tuesday afternoon, the heat was so bad in that it was coming off the sidewalk in waves. It seemed like a good idea to stick to the shady side of the street and a lot of other people had the same idea. There were definitely many fewer people outside than usual and they were moving a lot slower.
Walking down Broadway, I was surprised to see a man run past me but it was to catch up to a pretty young woman wearing a sundress to offer her a dripping bottle of cold water while introducing himself and asking her name. She accepted it with a smile. The heat has also been good for shaved ice and Italian ice vendors and I spoke to one who left her usual neighborhood spot for the more crowded tourist district because business is unusually good.
One older man was wearing one of those silly umbrella hats, trying to keep cool. I saw a well-dressed gentleman with the top half of the front of his shirt soaked with perspiration but he was still wearing his navy jacket and he hadn’t even loosened his tie. The homeless man who wears shredded newspaper from his hat to his shoes, normally seen sitting on the sidewalk on Broadway in the twenties asking for change, had found somewhere cooler to spend the day.
The last couple of nights, I have slept with the windows closed and the air conditioner on high because the overnight lows were in the eighties–much too hot for me to sleep. I also switched out the cotton bedsheets for the linen ones and put the blanket back in the closet.
I just can’t stand bathing in cold water but this week I have turned the hot water off during the last few minutes in the shower to let the water slowly get cold. Then, for my morning coffee, instead of hot, it’s been coffee, milk, sugar, and ice cubes made into a frozen slushie frappé in the blender, which got another workout Tuesday evening making a mango lassi with homemade buttermilk and on Wednesday, a smoothie with blueberries and a banana.
A bit of a breeze blowing down Fifth Avenue Wednesday morning hinted at some relief but it turned out to be a warm breeze that didn’t make much difference. The air coming up from the subway grates was much cooler. Walking slowly didn’t help and it was impossible to avoid perspiring. Dabbing at my face and neck with a handkerchief only kept them from dripping.
A New York discount store favorite, Jack’s World, had Cappuccino Chunk ice cream for $0.99 a pint and that was something I just couldn’t resist. Something unusual that I noticed was that Jack’s and most of the other stores had their doors closed to keep the cool air in.
The vendor who sells fruit from a cart around the corner from my apartment looked tired and hot after being outside all day, despite his giant umbrella. The two hardware stores I went into were out of both air conditioners and fans and even the drugstores didn’t have any fans left.
What I have been most worried about is a repeat of the 2003 blackout that left millions without power for several days. That is something that a lot of New Yorkers worry about. Let’s hope that some of them work at Con Ed!