The Dumpster Chronicles Part 15: Summer Heat

The Dumpster Chronicles: A Whimsical and Irreverent Guide to Nantucket, Being Part 15

The Heat Wave

By Kerry Hallam


The blistering heat wave continues, leaving us all in a state of tropical de-hydration. Do I hear the faint strains of the Global Warming Anthem in B flat?

I have a vision of a large throbbing dial somewhere in the nether regions of the Electric Company Generating Facility. Of course we no longer have one of those on the island for day to day electrical generation. It was acquired by an outfit called ‘National Grid’. No doubt they paid a ton of money so that they could pipe in our electricity from the mysterious regions of New Jersey. This is considered to be much more efficient than leaving our supply in the hands of a local station. Maybe it is, but not if you have a problem. You are then in the hands of an 800 number staffed by a customer service expert who is based in Calcutta and has not the foggiest notion where Nantucket or indeed Massachusetts is, globally speaking.

Back to my vision. We see a few top Electric Power executives gathered, staring at a large quivering dial. The giant turbines are doing their level best to keep up the vibrating speed at which they are now being asked to perform. Their casings are white hot and there is every sign that things are becoming critical. The worried frowns of the group of execs increase in direct proportion to the wobbling needle as it edges ever closer to the critical red section indicating that we are in deep doo doo. Brown out is just a matter of time.

This will mean no power. No air conditioning, no pop-up toasters, no light, no T.V, no groceries, ferry, or gasoline. The hospital generator will gurgle to a stop and life support systems will fail. Beer bottles will be exploding all over the island and it will be very, very hot. There will not be a square inch of room on the beach as entire families set up tents and canopies as living quarters to enable them to use the ocean to keep cool. Some of the young children will start to grow gills. Science fiction will collide with reality on Surfside beach. We will be boiling water from Miacomet Pond on open fires and scavenging for wood. The harbor will be empty; all the boats have headed north to Greenland. But in a strange way, it will be rather tranquil.

This morning I passed the old geezers sitting on their appointed bench on Main Street in the smidgin of shade that the parched trees provide. They shake their heads and talk in hushed tones about past summer heat waves; no one can remember one that lasted as long as this.
But there are some rewards to which we can look forward.

According to my crack meteorological friends, the current condition will be with us through Christmas or even longer. So it could be fun this Yuletide; taking a swim on what’s left of the beach prior to cooking the turkey. There may be a respite in November for a couple of days but that is by no means certain.

I well recall the summer of 1947 back in the U.K.. We had three months of very hot weather with little if any rain. For the British this was intolerable; not so much the constant sunshine but the lack of rain! Just didn’t seem like England somehow.

We were still rebuilding after the conclusion of World War 2 (which in all likelihood was the cause of the unusual weather) so the hardships of climatic anomalies were a walk in the park. That year the cricket season lasted for ever.
History could repeat itself. Just imagine baseball in January!



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Kerry Hallam was born and raised in the North of England. He was elected to the Royal Society of Artists and later established his first studio in the South of France. Kerry has lived and painted on the island for the past thirty years. He is represented internationally by Chalk and Vermilion of Greenwich, and has held extensive one man shows in the States, Japan, France and the U.K. His autobiography ‘Getting to Nantucket’ was recently published, and in the past few years, he has issued seven C.D.’s of own written and performed music. All illustrations are by Kerry Hallam. This column will appear regularly.

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