Friday, December 30, 2011

Heat Transfer

Every time the water turns back, past my ankles and into the opening mouth of a coming wave, it pulls away the sand under my heels, digging little depressions for me to sink back into. The longer I stand, the further entrenched I become. It’s as if I am fighting back the pull of water; the longer it pulls, the deeper I plant myself into the sand.

I always come back to this.

It is the day after Christmas, and my father and I are standing ankle-deep in the Pacific Ocean and talking about heat transfer and temperature. Did you know that if you stood in a room where the air temperature was 34 degrees, but the walls were 80 degrees, you would feel warm? It takes a specialized temperature control set up, but scientists have tried it and it works. It has to do with radiative versus conductive heat.

I wonder what it would be like to live in perpetual sun again.

The ocean tugs at my ankles; I am aware of the metaphor. It pulls me westward, homeward, California-bound. I am surprised to hear myself say, homeward. I lived here for seventeen years. And then I stopped. But here I am, fifteen years later, and the word comes, unbidden. Home.

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