These two statements are very true: America is a very hot place. America is a very cold place. There is one reason however why one of the statements will raise an eyebrow anywhere else across the Atlantic. The most enduring image of this country is that of white flurry snow falling down on lighted trees at Christmas. Somehow, for some strange reason, none of the images of sweating pedestrians, smelly cowboys and dusty roads of Nevada and California survived childhood memories and a transatlantic flight.
The temperature in Edwardsville yesterday was over 100 degrees F (about 37 degrees C). In Minnesota just two days ago, the recorded temperature was 115 degrees F. (That is 46 degrees C for heaven’s sake!!!) Thirteen people have already died from heatwaves. It is very telling that this happened in Minnesota, a usually cold place that still had snow until April when everyone else had already started having sunlight. If there was ever need for anyone to see that climate change is a harrowing reality, this is it. The question is, how do/would people survive the summer here, especially people already used to cold weather for half the year?
This statement is also very true: although coming from sub-saharan Africa, I’ve never been in a hotter or colder weather anywhere else.
I’ve found out that it’s not so cold here after all. Don’t get me wrong, three degrees cold is cold indeed, but coming out of my apartment this morning, I found out that I have indeed been in this kind of cold weather before, and it was neither in Europe nor in the Arctic, but in Nigeria. In Ibadan, to be clear.
You see, I’ve been having these repressed memories of my childhood brought back. And no, they don’t include memories of a sibling or step-father or any form of touching in the wrong places. I do vividly remember now that while I was younger, it used to be very cold at some times of the year that we always had to wear thick clothing in order to go out. There were times when it rained ice, and it was too cold even to venture out to dance in the rain. As I smell this post-rain atmosphere in Edwardsville, I realize that I’ve indeed been here before, in this cold, in this temperature. I have not seen snow before, and there is no doubt that I will get to see some this year, but what is clear to me beyond reasonable doubt is that I have experienced up to three degrees cold before. In Nigeria, so many years ago. So what happened? Why is it that today at home, everyone sweats profusely and curses the fact that the heat has become so generally unbearable? Yes, you got it. It’s the global warming!
The really memorable thing about this startling discovery is that I did not notice it while I was in Nigeria. There, everything always seemed perfectly normal, even though once in a while, we’d hear someone remark “Oh, it was never always this hot. I wonder what is happening!” And now, I have a perfect explanation for the reason why everyone in my family looked fairer in complexion in all of their baby pictures.