Photos by David Gordon
How do people who work outdoors all day deal with temperatures in the high 80s and even 90s?
Several people we spoke to agreed that lots of fluids helps. Taking your mind off the heat and focusing on something else is also helpful, and for a few lucky ones, a dip in the river or pool makes a big difference.
“I drink a lot of water and I think about winter,” said Libby Chilinski, an employee of Velo Farm working at the HITS facility. “And in the middle of winter, when it gets really cold, then I think about summer.”
Lifeguards Mason Winnie and Jen Sutherland at Saugerties Village Beach can take an occasional dip in the Esopus Creek. “We can take a break in the lifeguard room or go into the water while the other lifeguard watches,” Mason said. “I’d say pretty much the same, and also we drink lots of water.”
Their supervisor, Parks, Buildings and Grounds Superintendent George Terpening, spends a lot of time out in the heat himself, supervising the various workers in his department. From the beach on the Esopus, he heads over to the Lions Park pool, where Josh Rua was working as lifeguard. “I drink lots of water and Gatorade; it’s important to stay hydrated,” Rua said. “And the boss [Terpening] brought me a milkshake.”
Terpening doesn’t keep his vehicle air conditioned because he says it can be unhealthy and less comfortable to go in and out of air conditioned space. “If you’re inside all day, it’s OK to air condition the place.”
He prefers summer over winter, when his department has to clear sidewalks of snow. “I’ll take this heat over winter anytime,” he said.
Not everyone working outdoors in the sun is on the clock. Sara Wolven of Catskill stopped by to plant some flowers in the small garden patch near the Village Beach sign and weed the area. She also picks up litter and generally cleans up when she visits, which she does fairly frequently.
“I grew up in Saugerties, and I love coming back, especially to the beach,” she said. “My husband loves to fish, and he will fish here. Sometimes we bring lunch.”
Wolven, who was there without her husband on Friday, July 31, said she had a swim to cool off after planting and weeding. “There’s nothing like this in Catskill; no public beach, not a pool. People in Saugerties are lucky.”
Robert Schuman, owner of Holmes Memorials, was sprucing up the grass around his sample headstones in the 90-degree heat on Monday, Aug. 3. While the business office is air conditioned, Schuman said, when he’s working outside, he stays for quite a while before going in to cool off.
As a sole proprietor, he’s busy keeping up the grounds, greeting customers, keeping the books and all the other jobs it takes to run a business. Like everyone else working in the heat, his main strategy is to drink a lot of water.
For Proline CATV lineman Rick Vitek the office is no escape. “This is the job; you don’t get to go inside,” he said. There really wasn’t much more to say, and with that, he activated the bucket on the back of his truck and made his way up to the top of the utility pole to get back to work.