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Here is Albert with the weather

When I lived in Paonia, I spent a lot of time with Jamie, driving from one little town to another, looking for crags on which to climb.

The daily weather report on our side of the mountains was read aloud by Albert on KVNF, the public radio Voice of the Valley. Albert, by the way, runs an outdoors store down the road a ways, and is wacky. But you wouldn’t know it from his monotone weather reports:

This is Albert, with KVNF weather. The five-day forecast calls for highs in the 80s, with afternoon showers developing over the western edges of the desert. Tomorrow, highs in the 80s, with afternoon showers developing over the western edges of the desert. Tuesday, highs in the 80s, with afternoon showers developing over the western edges of the desert. Wednesday, highs in the 80s, with afternoon showers developing over the western edges of the desert. Thursday, highs in the 80s, with afternoon showers developing over the western edges of the desert.

The consistency of summertime weather on the Western Slope lent itself to his straight-away style. Today’s severe weather alert, warning of record high temps (110 to 116 degrees F, just shoot me now) has a different kind of style:

STAY IN AIR-CONDITIONED BUILDINGS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. IF YOU ARE GOING TO BE OUTSIDE…WEAR LIGHTWEIGHT AND LIGHT-COLORED CLOTHING…STAY IN THE SHADE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE…AND DRINK PLENTY OF WATER. ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES CAN MAKE HEAT STRESS WORSE AND DIRECT SUNLIGHT CAN MAKE IT FEEL AS MUCH AS 15 DEGREES HOTTER.

I appeciate the earnestness of the National Weather Service. As horrifying as 110 F is, it does remind me of an old saying about making one’s way in the desert:

The canyon country does not always inspire love. To many it appears barren, hostile, repellent-a fearsome land of rock and heat, sand dunes and quicksand, cactus, thornbush, scorpion, rattlesnake, and agoraphobic distances. To those who see our land in that manner, the best reply is, yes, you are right, it is a dangerous and terrible place. Enter at your own risk. Carry water. Avoid the noonday sun. Try to ignore the vultures. Pray frequently. (From Edward Abbey’s The Journey Home)

This, certainly, is an enter-at-your-own-risk kind of week in the desert. With the nearby mountains inaccessible due to fire, Tucson doesn’t offer much in the way of cool retreats right now. Because the shelves in my refrigerator are not removable, I think it’s about time to get out of town for a while.