Heatwaves, Bumble Bees, And AC


As the current heatwave continues to grip Montreal, people are slowly emerging from COVID-19 confinement. Parks are once again focal points for gatherings – under proper distancing rules. Sensibly, the municipal authorities have opted to look the other way and not enforce drinking in public laws.

Last weekend while sitting in a local park under a lovely big tree enjoying a cold beer or two I had a visitor. As I was about to reach down to my cooler, I could not help but notice that a rather large bumblebee had made himself at home on the lid.  Bees have always both fascinated me, but from a distance (ideally on television) and scared me.

“Maybe I have a stinger; maybe I don’t,” he said. “Go ahead, make my day”

This big fellow introduced himself to me as Benny and pointed out that if I thought it was hot, imagine how he felt in that bulky sweater. I slowly moved to get my phone out and snap a photo. He told me to take my time as he was in no rush to leave. While this afforded me the opportunity to take his picture, it also put a bit of a damper on access to by beer hamper, if you will.

I was not going to do anything that would cause him any discomfort, nor did I want to irk him into an unpleasant reaction. It then dawned on me that I had read that some bees don’t have stingers. But how to know? If Benny had no stinger, I could gently lift him off the cooler, grab a beer, and put him back.

He seemed a likable sort, so I just asked him straight if he had a stinger or not. This is when he adopted a Clint Eastwood/Dirty Harry persona, suggesting I take my chances. “Maybe I have a stinger; maybe I don’t,” he said. “Go ahead, make my day”. It was then that I decided I probably should cut down on my beer intake.



Then there’s the whole issue of air conditioning. When I was a boy very few people had A/C in their houses. Fans were the way to beat the heat at home. Not a very effective method, but the most popular one. Real A/C was found primarily in commercial establishments: department stores, local convenience stores, and pharmacies.

My recollection of A/C as a young boy is of the blast of cold – not cool – air that met you when you opened the door to our corner drugstore. It was like walking into a freezer. Your nipples hardened to the point of being able to cut glass. If you spent a long time in the store you faced the serious possibility of developing an ice cream headache like no other.

Your nipples hardened to the point of being able to cut glass

Perhaps it’s an environmental issue, but today’s A/C pales by comparison. I worked in an office tower that was such a disappointment when it came to A/C. Fool that I was, every hot summer morning as I arrived, I anticipated an icy blast. But I was always let down when a mere waft of semi-cool air greeted me.

In my apartment, there are two A/C window units. I install them each spring (praying I don’t drop one out the window) and store them all winter. During a heatwave, they are on almost 24/7 – if not for us then to make sure our cat is comfy. One of them is new this year and even that one falls short of producing the frigid environment that I associate with A/C.

However, it’s not all tepid news; the A/C in our car produces a nice sample of a polar vortex!

Published by DCMontreal

DCMontreal - Deegan Charles Stubbs - is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

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