Did Ray Morley actually cook an omelet on the East Street pavement?

It was hot last week.

The weather angels have now shut down two Thursday evening Castle Hill concerts in a row, and most recently not just because of the threat of lightning, but because of deadly heat.

I would suggest that the weather angels are annoyed because we keep talking about the “weather gods,” when the weather angels are the ones who really have to do all the work.

The weather gods sit in their executive conference room on their throne-like leather chairs and make all the decisions, but they’re detached from the actual machinery of weather-making and have little or no appreciation for what the weather angels go through to execute all the executives’ executions.

The Trustees, who host the weekly summer concert series at the Crane Estate, repeatedly express their hope that “the weather gods will cooperate.” It’s prayer, for all practical purposes. But it’s misguided, because in reality, the weather gods are not processing the prayers. They’re sipping scotch and smoking cigars and making minimal effort — typical bureaucrats — issuing the most general of instructions to their underlings: “Summer sunshine.” “Warmer today.” “Breezy.” The yeoman weather angels, meanwhile, get little or no oversight from the weather gods, so they ad-lib the actual details of the weather, mostly based on their mood.

And because it vexes them to hear all this beseeching of the weather gods — as if the weather angels don’t even exist, for heaven’s sake! — they finally get fed up and clobber us.

Like last week.

I have not lived here in Ipswich long, but long enough to know the summer heat shouldn’t surprise us. Where I used to live, in a suburb of the Great Sonoran Desert known as Scottsdale, Arizona, heat is the painful norm. The heat sits down on you in April like Jabba the Hutt — it was 112ºF at 4 p.m. one day last week — and doesn’t stand up to stretch till at least November. (In December, Jabba may just lean forward a little to let you breathe, but he doesn’t lean very far, and you don’t get to breathe very deeply, before it’s March and the torture begins all over again.)

Here in coastal Massachusetts, it’s different. As I’ve discovered during my brief time here, Jabba the Heat has more of a rhythm. It’ll hit you, and it’ll go away. But first, it’s gonna hit you.

You’re sitting on your screen porch in early July, counting your blessings, perhaps noting mentally that the weather has been quite beautiful, when suddenly Jabba swirls in, thunderboomers roiling behind him like boisterous backup singers, and then kapow, Jabba the Heat has plopped into your lap. You might spill your frozen marguerita except that it’s already so hot, there’s nothing in the glass but tequila soup. And it’s steaming.

So, yeah. It was hot last week.

  • It was so hot that some kind of lizard knocked on my back door and asked for a drink of water.
  • It was so hot that high tide on the Ipswich River was lower than low tide, and low tide was gravel.
  • It was so hot that the new stop signs at the top of North Main Street began drooping toward South Main Street.
  • It was so hot that kids selling street-corner lemonade on outer Linebrook Road had to edit their “Lemonade” sign to read “Just Add Water.”
  • Ipswich residents with property in Florida were heading back south to cool down.
  • Marini’s corn started popping in the fields.
  • Our fruit trees were producing pies.
  • It was so hot that Clam Box kitchen personnel were sent home because the clams were frying themselves.

Bottom line — Heed thou mine admonition: 

Pray thee to the weather angels, not the weather gods, and things will get better.


(Doug Brendel is sitting in his underwear with what’s left of a cool drink somewhere on outer Linebrook Road in Ipswich, Massachusetts. At his current lethargic pace, he won’t be hard to track. Start at DougBrendel.com.)

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