I expected the heat to go down in August, but one week into it, the high temperature shows no sign of letting up. 95F (35C) for three weeks now, which has been punctuated by only one or two days of 89F (32C). Google says the average day time high temperature of Edison, New Jersey in August in 84F (29C), but that doesn’t seem to be correct. For the last several years, I do feel the temperature is much higher than 84F.
I remember when I was young, living on the southern edge of the Mongolian Steppe, on a campus of a rural university flanked by farming villages. Many of the farmers’ children were my classmates in our primary school. One day in August, I accompanied my friend Shia to her home to taste a new drink her mother invented–it’s just some home fermented vinegar mixed with water and some local spices. I can’t remember the topic or the context of our conversation, but I remember very clearly that I said, “I wish the summer is over. It’s so hot.” Shia’s father said, “Without the heat, the corn and the sorghum won’t grow that well.” Due to the heat, farmers were only at work in the morning hours. Shia’s father spent the afternoon hours sitting in his yard, smoking his tobacco pipe and worrying about his crops.
The problem is that in this arid land of Southern Steppe, none of the food crops could grow very well. They just don’t. The yield is not good at all. Corn and sorghum are the only crops that can tolerate the lack of water, and they were planted throughout the region. Needless to say, the local diet consisted of 65% of corn and sorghum, and 35% of wheat. But we dislike corn and sorghum, and prefer wheat.
To avoid the heat, I went out shopping at 8AM. And in the grocery stores, there were more old people than usual. Suddenly I became the younger one in the crowd. I had to walk slowly and became vigilant that I didn’t bump into anybody since several people looked very fragile. They must be suffering from osteoporosis–just by the look of them, I could guess. Why can’t they take supplement pills, like those with calcium and those for bones and joints?
It is said Asians, with smaller frame and bone structures, are very easy to get osteoporosis. And also Asian women living in America have the same rate of getting breast cancer as everybody else. Knowing all these frightful statistics, I started taking calcium pills even before middle age. And I started to restrict my intake of milk and meat in my 30s.
At Walmart, a homeless man was doing self checkout right before me. Since he had no place to park his belongings, he had to push two carts–one for his various possessions in garbage bags, and one for the goods he is purchasing. The Walmart assistants watched him warily, obviously wishing him to be gone. How sad. I suddenly remembered an ancient poem about the poet’s home destroyed in a rainstorm or a typhoon. Standing there soaked in the rain, the poet wished that everybody has a place to live. That’s more than a thousand years ago and now with all the advancement of technology and the improvement of productivity, we still can’t fulfill the simple wish that everybody has a place to live.
The Korean Store
The gas price is dropping to $3.99 today. Consequently I guessed that the grocery price can go down too, but that’s not the case. At the store, the price is as high as before. With such a high price, one would naturally come to the conclude that the store makes better profit and becomes more prosperous. However that’s not the case, at least by my observation. The daikon turnips are all wrinkled, the eggplants look like they should be retired a week ago, the Korean cabbages are all wrapped up in saran wraps. It looked to me that store has not had good business in the last several weeks. I was wondering why this is the case. Is it because people are purchasing less groceries due to the price increase?