Hot enough for you?
Audra Dziuba of South Deerfield tosses her daughter, Emma Dziuba, 10, into the air at the Tri-Town Beach in Whately last summer. Recorder file photo/Paul Franz
Colton Stebbins takes a break from weed-whacking while Cody Snow lets his lawnmower cool off Wednesday on Elm Street in Greenfield. Snow is one of the "sons" in Snow and Sons Landscaping.
Lifeguard Matthew Byrne, 18, of Greenfield, keeps watch over swimmers at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area during the heat wave Wednesday afternoon.
Grass sticking to the sweat on his face and arms, one local landscaper looked forward to quitting time, when he could put down his weed whacker and call it a day.
“Aside from the heat, it’s a great job,” said Colton Stebbins, of Snow and Sons Landscaping. “We get to be outside all day; I can’t complain. I’m an outside kind of guy.”
There are several ways to beat the heat — stay inside an air-conditioned room, spend the day in the pool, or take an Alaskan vacation, but for some workers, there’s no way around the heat and humidity.
For Stebbins and coworker Cody Snow, the only way out was to complete their 10-customer day.
“This week has been pretty rough,” said Snow.
They’ve been trying to stay cool by starting their days early.
“We got started at about 6 a.m., before it was too hot, and hopefully we can end our day earlier, around 3 (p.m.).”
“Sunscreen is key for me,” said the light-skinned, red-haired Stebbins.
Stebbins started working for Snow and Sons over the winter, and, as low man on the totem pole, he wields a weed whacker while Snow mans the ride-on mower.
“Everyone starts out with the line trimmer their first year,” said Stebbins.
While the two landscapers kept cool by staying hydrated and taking breaks in the shade, others working during the heat wave had more effective methods.
“It’s hot out, but the water really cools you off,” said Matthew Byrne, a lifeguard at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area.
Lifeguards at the outdoor pool rotate every 15 minutes. Lifeguards start out at the westernmost of three lifeguard stations, move to the next every quarter hour, and take a break once they’ve reached the end. Many use part of their break to take a dip in the river.
At the next chair, Luke Toritto of Greenfield kept watch on the end of the pool closest to its dam. He doesn’t mind putting up with the heat.
“It’s one of the best summer jobs out there,” said Toritto, 18, while taking a break. “I couldn’t see myself being inside too much during the summer.”
While an air conditioned office may sound great to some, it’s not for Stebbins, Toritto, or Eliot Deres, either.
“I’ve worked in an office before; it was no fun,” he said, as he stood in the shade at the end of Unity Park in Turners falls. Deres works for Taylor Davis Landscaping and Construction, the Amherst company that’s been working on several park improvements.
“Working in the heat isn’t fun, either, but someone’s got to do it,” he said.
“It’s worse when we have to do paving,” said coworker Ken Clark. “The asphalt is 360 degrees when it leaves the plant, and the truck bodies are heated to keep it warm.”
“Paving is miserable even on a cold day,” added Clark.
Even on lighter work days like Wednesday, when they were taking care of cleanup and “odds and ends,” the heat takes its toll.
“We have to stay hydrated, and try not to overdo it,” said Deres. “And we take breaks when we can. It’s either that, or drop.”
Heat exhaustion is a very real concern.
“I’m surprised we haven’t had more heat-related medical calls,” said Turners Falls Fire Captain John Zellman. “I think people are taking it easy, like they should.”
Zellman said the department went on a single heat-related call Tuesday, but that it didn’t turn out too serious for the patient.
Though there’s no doubt it’s been hot this month, we’ve seen hotter.
The National Weather Service reported a high temperature of 93 degrees in Greenfield Wednesday, still three degrees less than the 96 degrees reported one year ago today. Since 2006, the temperature hasn’t risen above 97 degrees in July, as recorded on July 7, 2010.
If the forecast holds true, the heat wave will continue with a high of 92 in Greenfield, peaking with a high of 96 Friday, and hitting 92 again Saturday before it breaks, with a forecast high of 80 degrees Sunday.
With temperatures like that, people are going to need to stay cool. Those without air conditioning or an Arctic retreat of their own can take advantage of a cooling center.
The Greenfield Public Library will double as a cooling center from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Friday, and 9:30 to 2 p.m. Saturday.
The Greenfield Senior Center, at 54 High St., will also open as a cooling center, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Sunderland Public Safety Complex, at 105 River Road, will be open as a cooling center today from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The South County Senior Center, on North Main Street in South Deerfield, will also be open today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Dickinson Memorial Library, on Main Street in Northfield, invites those in the area to come by and enjoy the AC during library hours; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today, 1 to 8 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
The Sunderland Public Library will also serve as a cooling center from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
David Rainville can be reached at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279