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Fortney: For many Calgarians, it's too darn hot

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imagesMany years ago, in an attempt to escape a soggy August, my husband and I took an ill-advised summer trip to Mexico.

We spent the entire week seeking air-conditioned shelter at a Starbucks along with the Puerto Vallarta Cinemex, our only reprieve from the 38 C heat.

The job of a journalist also saw me landing in the world’s hot spots, at the most inopportune times: for example, New Delhi in July, where with the Humidex, the thermometer hit 50; and Kuwait in June, where the daily high was not much cooler than India (but yeah, it was a dry heat).

So when I hear that Friday’s forecast for Calgary could go as high as 37 C, I hit the bike path early, knowing an attempt at outdoor exercise could trigger heat exhaustion anytime after 10 a.m.

Martin Grafe says he had pretty much the same thought before heading out on his daily tour of Stanley Park and environs.

When I encounter him on the bike path buzzing along on his motorized scooter, The Drifters’ Up on the Roof blaring from a speaker in its front basket, he’s enjoying the pre-heat-wave day.

“You know, I like it in the mid-20s,” says the retired labourer, who spent his working life outside, year-round.

“Once it goes to above 30, I hide at home and have siestas. I love summer weather; it’s a lot easier for me to get around. But this is crazy.”

Crazy is what a lot of people have been calling the heat waves happening in no less than four separate continents this summer. Across Europe, records are being broken, and in the United States, at least nine all-time temperature records were broken in places such as the Los Angeles region.

In Canada, the record-breaking heat, which many experts attribute to the effects of climate change, has resulted in several deaths, 70 in Quebec alone in July.

By mid-morning, when I meet up with my colleague, Postmedia photographer Jim Wells, the prediction by Environment Canada is looking possible that of a 36 C day. The city hasn’t seen a day this hot since 1933.

Thanks to a combo of heat and smoke from the B.C. fires, the usually bustling 17 Avenue S.W. looks more like a ghost town. That is, until we pop our heads into the back door of Made by Marcus Microcreamery, where owner Marcus Purtzki and his team are busy preparing the day’s offerings of such imaginative ice cream flavours as Mr. Fujioka’s Matcha Tea.

Purtzki says that record-breaking heat, despite what some may think, doesn’t translate into a boom in sales.

“It can be pretty slow during the day; it’s just too hot to be out,” says Purtzki. “When evening comes though, we can see long lineups on a day like this. Last night, we were scooping until midnight.”

At Cafe Beano, where there’s almost always a crowd on the outside benches, it looks like the place is closed. That is, until I bump into my friend Maureen Hodgan, who is rushing in to grab a coffee.

“You feel like, because we have such harsh winters, you’re not allowed to say anything bad about the heat,” says Hodgan with a laugh. “But everywhere I’m going today, there has to be air conditioning, or forget about it.”

Hayden Cameron and Owen Goerzen are having none of that fake air stuff, even if it’s already 35 C when they sit down to a burger lunch on the patio of Trolley 55 restaurant and brewery.

“I’m gonna drink beer and then some more beer,” says Goerzen with a laugh. “We’re embracing it,” says Cameron, “although I do admit I prefer when it’s around 22 above.”

Watching the hardy souls take up seats on the outdoor patio, Trolley 55 manager Luciano Ibarra says the dry, hot summer weather has translated into a packed establishment most evenings.

“The heat keeps a lot of people away until around 6 p.m.,” he says. “But it doesn’t bother me. I’m from Mexico, where 45 C is normal in the summer.” Don’t I know it, Luciano. Don’t I know it.

Source: Calgary Herald