It looks like we’re into some near record or even record breaking high temperatures. Kalispell’s record high was 105 degrees back in 1961. I probably handled that by heading into the creek. Still, that’s fairly gentle, compared to Glendive in 1893, or Medicine Lake in 1937 – both of which saw 117 degrees.
As I look at the predictions for the next few days, my mind goes back to the concept of growing degree days, and then to the temperature limits on plant growth. Corn, for example, doesn’t grow unless the temperature is at least 50 degrees, and anything over 86 is wasted. Today’s heat isn’t much help for the sweet corn in the garden. Wheat, as I recall handles temperatures up to 90 – but there isn’t much good to be said about 100+ degree weather for crops or people. Alfalfa doesn’t notice the temperature until it tops 104. (All of this is from memory, and the last time I taught the class was 35 years ago – I don’t believe that I’ve lost it since then, but checking the numbers won’t hurt my feelings)
The excess temperature has the spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and similar leafy greens bolting – going into seed production early. I’m not sure how the early heat is going to affect the tomatoes and peppers this early in their growth.
Still, I’ve been through the hottest day Montana could offer – I was manning a target so we could tie in two separate benchmarks on two separate mountains . . . the kind of job a monkey with passable radio discipline could handle. I’d figured on waiting for the radio call to shift the target, then napping in the shade. When I got to the only shade available, I saw a rattlesnake slide into a crack in the boulder I had planned to use as a back rest. It was a shady, smooth boulder – and if I had gotten there 5 minutes later, I would have probably got the nap. Instead, I stood in the sunlight. There’s a word for fear of snakes.