Afa: get to know it


I was going to write about something else but it’s just too hot.   Every summer we get a heatwave around about now, but I’m not sure I remember one quite this heavy.   Or long-lasting.  

We’ve been having temperatures up around 100 degrees F. (39 degrees C) during the day, slightly less at night, for at least a week.   Yesterday the weather report indicated that it was hotter here than in New York.   I can tell you without consulting anybody but myself that it’s hotter than the hinges of hell.

Looking toward Murano at 8:30 this morning.

Looking toward Murano at 8:30 this morning.

In addition to simple heat, there is the element called “afa,” which means sweltering, sultry, breathless heat, the kind of mugginess that makes you feel like an old sponge that has been left in a dark damp corner next to things that smell.

There are only two places I can think of where this weather would be even more intolerable. One would be anywhere along the Po River plain, where the fields  stretch for  long, desperate distances with no shade.   Where there is shade, among the poplar plantations lining the river, there is no oxygen.   Whatever is taking the place of oxygen does not move, because the world has stopped.

Looking toward the Lido at the lagoon inlet of San Nicolo'.  The heron is happy, but herons don't sweat.

Looking toward the Lido at the lagoon inlet of San Nicolo'. The egret is happy, but egrets don't sweat.

The other place where the heat is torment is the mountains.   Mountains are  made to be cool, at least at night.   If I had to endure this kind of heat at  4,000 feet, I’d have to think long and carefully about my revenge.

Clamming takes your mind off the fact that you're suffocating.

Clamming takes your mind off the fact that you're suffocating.

We’ve gotten through it so far by going out in the lagoon in a small mascareta, to a place where there is virtually always a breeze.   And enough water to immerse myself for ten hours or so.   Other people go to the beach on the Lido.   Other people go shopping at the small supermarket off Campo Ruga, where the air-conditioning is set to cryogenic depths.   We go clamming.   More fun, for us.   Probably not so much for the clams.

I’m off to bed now, planning to dream of the freezers at the Tyson chicken-processing plant.   Do not wake me.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Categories : Boatworld, Nature, Water


  1. Christa says:

    I remember something you wrote years ago about the Null Arbor region of Australia. I have never forgotten the image of kangaroos sitting in a line quietly in the shade of telephone poles (because – as the name inplies- there were no trees, anywhere, at all). Gasp, wheeze.

    • Erla Zwingle says:

      Amazing that you would remember that — I’d forgotten that detail, myself. Mammals are famous for making the most of whatever comes to hand (or paw), though the mammalian biped at Malamocco did have alternatives. The story referring to the Nullarbor Plain was about the Tea and Sugar Train (National Geographic, June, 1986). Thanks for keeping track of me.