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How The World Wags

"Too Darn Hot"
By Dave Kiffer

August 12, 2005

Ketchikan, Alaska - It was inevitable.

I was walking down Dock Street one afternoon this week and I passed a good friend.

"This weather is killing me," She said, raising her hand as if to wipe her brow.  
jpg Dave Kiffer

"Me too," I sighed as we passed.

We Ketchikanites are a bunch of weather whiners.

I don't mean that we complain about the rain. No, not at all.

We wear our relentless drizzle like a badge of honor. We brag to ourselves and others about how much of the old "Chinese Water Torture" we can absorb. We hold our heads higher because we know that we can get more rain in a day than some places get all year.

But in the Dog Days of August, when the temperature rises above 80 and the water starts leaking out of the walls because the humidity is 150 percent, well.Gentlefolk start your "whingines.".

It seems incomprehensible that someone would ever claim it was "too darn hot" in Ketchikan. After all, isn't the unofficial community motto "Ketchikan Welcomes Global Warming"?

Besides three quarters of the people who live came here from somewhere else. They didn't all move because of the weather, but some did.

You hear it all the time.

"I used to live in Phoenix, but it was too hot."

"But it was a dry heat, right?"

"Sure. In the summer the mosquitoes would spontaneously combust."

"I was happy to get transferred out from D.C. It was way too muggy there."

"Well, it was built in a swamp."

"Heck yes, you felt like you were walking around in wet clothes all day. It's not that bad here."

No, it's not. I've been in D.C. in the summer and it's much worse than the few days of each year where we get "muggy-ed" by the humidity. I've also been in Phoenix (and LA) when the temp slides north of 110. The mosquitoes don't actually combust in mid air. It's really more a slight crackling fizzle while they are still on the ground. It's the sound that someone's hair makes when it catches on fire (that's another column).

Still, it does seem a little odd that we would complain so much about good weather after spending most of the year grumbling about the mediocre and the outright bad.

Wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago, that folks were noting the Fall-like tinge in the air?

"Bad news, that's definitely an October type of rain."

"Leaves are coming down early."

"Uh oh, the fireweed is white already."

"I saw some big wooly bears, it's going to be an early frost."

I suspect those "wooly bear" caterpillars were pretty danged hot this week. I swear that one of our cats sidled up to my leg a couple of days ago and meowed "shave me."

Okay, so it was a little hot. But it wasn't like a couple of years ago when we we neared the all-time Ketchikan record of 90 .. Remember when Annette reported 93 and it seemed hotter than that here even though the official thermometer (kept in a root cellar at the airport) read only 89?

Now that was a hot one.

I saw a wooly bear catch on fire as it was crossing the driveway.



Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2005

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