Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Modern Living

My home was built in 1985 with no regard to cross breeze; it had central a/c from the get-go. Very early on, we found that the days when open windows create an ideal climate are rare, and there have been many summers in the last 15 when the house has stayed closed up from June to October.

Oh, air conditioning can be seductive all right: its promise of complete climate control and the undeniable relief of entering an artificially cooled place on the hottest of days draws us to the thermostat. Some days it's not even the heat, it's the humidity-- when the bills start curling up on my desk, I'm inclined to close the windows and crank the a/c.

When I was a child air conditioning was rare. In the hot hot heart of summer we sat around with windows opened wide and all manner of box fans blowing. When the heat was at its worst, we were advised to take a shower and go to bed wet so we could fall sleep.

None of that seems like a hardship, even now. These last few days have been both cool and dry, and even in this ill-designed house open windows have regulated our days perfectly. This morning I heard on the radio that a front would be passing through bringing along with it warmer and more humid air. I believe I felt the change in the weather when I came downstairs. Things were just a little stickier, and there was a scent in the air of green things growing in moist soil that transported me back to those days when every morning felt like this morning.

Who needs air conditioning? I thought, until my downstairs neighbor grabbed her cell phone and cigarettes and camped out below my living room windows. I'm sure we'll open them again soon...

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