Well, this is a first.
I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a historical record before. And now here I am part of at least three. I can’t claim a lot of credit. I preformed no acts of heroism to help accomplish the achievement. I participated in no organized event to put more people in a small place than had ever been placed in such a miniscule site before.
Mr. Guinness did not come looking for my help in establishing a new benchmark to which future generations might aspire. I neither marched nor sat in protest.
I merely happened to reside in Texas where we established records for the most 100-degree days in a year, as well as achieving the distinction of surviving the hottest summer on record. We also set a new benchmark for the driest year and the hottest June, the hottest July and the hottest August—ever.
I think we also earned the distinction of being the hottest state in the country for the last three months, based on average temperatures across the state. I may be wrong about that last one; with so many prestigious honors one tends to get a bit giddy over all the accolades. Forgive me if I have overstated our accomplishments.
I’m thinking we should all get certificates—and tee-shirts, stating that we survived the hottest summer on record. The shirts should be brown, the current hue of the Texas landscape. They could have a bright orange orb in the center, representing the sun, which we observed most every day for the past year.
But perhaps I am a bit too prideful. Oklahoma, our good neighbor to the north, also set records for the hottest they’ve ever been since folks started jotting down how warm it gets every day. I think New Mexico also earned new honors as well.
The thing is, as I travel around the Southwest I’m finding few people who are particularly proud of these monumental accomplishments. I am finding folks looking wistfully at the sky, hoping that the drought will break. And they check the thermometers on the back porch to see if there might be a dip in those 100-degree marks.
I’ve kicked through a few fields of scraggly cotton and ruined wheat with several farmers who’d just as soon forego the honor of these records in exchange for a few inches of rain and some relief from the heat.
I’ve watched all summer as stock tanks shrank to nothing more than a damp spot in the deepest part of the pond. After more than a decade in the Southwest I’ve grown accustomed to crossing rivers that contain no more than a trickle of water in the summertime. Those are dry gullies this year and some of the bigger rivers, the Brazos, for instance, are way down from their usual flows.
I’ve seen more dust devils in one field in less than 30 minutes than I’d previously seen in an entire year. I’ve attempted to photograph clouds of dust sweeping across bare fields in front of 50-mile-per-hour winds. I’ve come home with sand in my ears and dust in my throat. My truck needs washed.
So, I’d like whoever is in charge of passing out honors in Texas to go ahead and send me my certificate. I wear a size large tee-shirt, so get that in the mail, too.
And then as far as I’m concerned, we can close the books on this record-breaking year and hope we never see another to match it.