Naomi Neal, Kathryn Stresak, Dorian Gomberg, Ed Vlcek, and Brad Krautwurst are Shimer students participating in the Shimer Internship/Mentorship (SIM) Program. They regularly post updates about their internship experiences.
This post is from Kathryn Stresak, who is interning at Growing Power in Chicago, Illinois.
Have you all noticed how hot it is? Don't pull that "I don't live where you live" card! It's hot everywhere and it's hard for me not to notice. I am in the thick of it every day (except Mondays). I have always been able to handle heat relatively well. Luckily, some blood in me flows for that Vitamin D. This summer, though, has pushed my tolerance to its brink. Most days I have been out at Grant Park from 7 am to 5 pm, learning to deal with nature's temper. So in this blog I thought I would list some tribulations and triumphs of a good ol' fashioned, air-conditioning-free summer:
1. Bring a water bottle full of cold water. Think it will stay cold until 9 am. Sadly drink your warm, metallic water at 9 am.
2. Bring a water bottle frozen the night before. Believe confidently this time your water will be cold until 9 am. Leave water bottle in a sunny area. Sadly drink your warm, metallic water at 9 am.
3. Bring a water bottle frozen the night before. Leave water bottle under a shady tree. Triumphantly drink your cold, refreshing water at 9 am. Leave top open. Return confidently to your water bottle at 10 am. Walk away in defeat upon discovering an empty water bottle and a soaked backpack.
4. Liberally apply sunscreen before leaving the house. Forget to bring sunscreen to the farm. Be forced to accept that it is 101 degrees outside and yes, those funky farmer's arms will be red by the end of the day.
5. Wear shorts. Get annoyingly bitten by black flies. Drop a box of harvested flowers in the mud.
1. Bring a giant sun hat. Stay cool and shaded all day. Get compliments on snazzy hat. Pretend you're a movie star "getting away from it all."
2. Bring coffee thermos full of ice water. Trimphantly fill your ice-filled thermos with water for the third time at 3 pm.
3. Embrace the funky farmer's tan. Acknowledge it as a conversation starter at parties. "So I noticed your arms are incredibly tan yet your back is starkly white..."
4. Walk to the restroom. Run into Whole Foods workers passing out free popsicles. Happily bite into popsicle as people shout "Yeah, Growing Power! Keep up the good work!" as you walk away.
5. Remember as you stand, dizzy from the sun, that you are holding a water hose. Spray yourself with that water like crazy.
So there you go. Perhaps it is not the most universal list of stay-cool tips and trips but they are some of the most memorable for me this summer. I am beginning to fully understand how difficult it is to grow food while enduring the whims of the weather. There have been several days where I have started the day over-heated, then been soaked by a downpour, followed by a lovely wave of humidity. I find myself using the critical thinking skills I've gained at Shimer all the time. Whether it be how to keep cool during the hottest time of the year, building trellis systems for beans, teaching youth corps kids how to work farmer's markets or talking to city park district members about the space we share, I always have to keep my wits about me. Though I may be painting this endurance of the weather in a cynical light, I actually really like it. It's really important to know what the world is actually like without all the structures and conveniences we've built up to avoid the difficult things.
I also have a nice article showcasing the Grant Park farm and my super cool boss Lauralyn. You should read it! It has pretty pictures!