Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Dead of Summer

We humans, tropical beings that we are, often refer to "the dead of winter," when frigid air and bitter winds seem to bring life to a standstill.  Of course, this does not actually occur and, if we have the gumption to venture outdoors, we find that many species of wildlife remain active under such conditions; indeed, their very survival depends on that hunting and foraging activity.

In mid summer, especially in the American Midwest, similar periods occur when oppressive heat and humidity discourage mid-day activity by humans and wildlife alike; only the insects (and perhaps some reptiles) thrive in such conditions.  In contrast to the dead of winter, this dead of summer truly affects a wide range of animals, causing them to limit their activities to the early morning and late day hours.

Fortunately, these periods of oppressive heat tend to be relatively brief and are soon swept away by Pacific storm systems or deported by angelic incursions of Canadian air.  The last few days, with afternoon highs in the 90s (F) and dew points in the 70s, brought the dead of summer to central Missouri but the next cold front is now approaching from the northwest; cooler and drier air behind the front will (at least temporarily) rejuvenate the region.