Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hot Enuf for Ya?

Vicki here, sweltering in B.C.
There really is nothing that can take the place of on-the-spot research. In the Shadow of the Glaicer, the first in my new police procedural series, takes place in the fictional town of Trafalgar, which is set in the fictional area called Mid-Kootenay, which is set in the real place called the Kootenays. I've been to the Kootenays several times to visit my daughter, for about a week at a time each time. So I know that it gets hot here. In Glacier, a reporter from L.A. comes to Trafalgar and is shocked at how hot it is. I think at that point in the book it's about 30 degrees Celcius. I mention that my main character, Constable Molly Smith, is hot in her police uniform. But it's only since I've been living here for the past two months that I now understand the meaning of HOT! Boy, it is HOT. It was 48 degrees Celcius on the front porch on Friday. That's about 120 Farenheit. We had about two drops of rain on Friday night, and that's been all for the last two weeks. I accompanied a real life Nelson City Police Constable on the beat for a couple of hours one day last week. When I drove into town in the afternoon, the big sign at the mall said it was 42 degrees C (about 107 F). And boy, do those poor cops suffer in the heat. That Kevlar vest weights a ton and doesn't breathe at all. Then there is the dark uniform, the heavy boots, and all the equipment they carry on their belts. He told me that one of the officers had been seeing stars during the day, because of the heat. We went back to the station after an arrest, and my guide took the vest off. He was soaked right through from the sweat under it. So in the next book poor Constable Smith is also going to have to suffer.
On the brighter side, the house I am staying at is quite a bit highter than Nelson, so it gets cool in the evening. Even though my bedroom is on the second floor, I have no problems sleeping. The dogs spend most of their day wandering from one shady spot to another, and trying to decide if they'd rather come outside with me into the heat or stay in the cooler house. I can't imagine what it must be like inside those fur coats. They do enjoy the evenings, when it starts to cool off. Then they're ready for a long walk, and a play with each other on the lawn.
Did you notice how I slipped that bit in about 'after an arrest'? I had fun on the beat and learned a lot. I think that my guide thought I was disappointed as nothing very interesting happened (the arrest was a kid who was drinking on the street and tried to smart-mouth his way out of the situation - not a good idea). But as I said to them, if I want to learn what exciting things police do, I'll watch TV. But for the real mundane stuff, the flavour and the colour, just walking the beat gives me exactly what I need.
As I said, there is nothing that can substitute for on-the-spot research.
Oh, and by the way, I don't have any running water as the pump broke and they can't get a new one until Monday or Tuesday.

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