HERD ABOUT IT?
by Ana Grarian
I don’t know how people from the south do it. My current job is OK; there is air conditioning. Though from about noon on, the old unit slowly loses the battle. I get home just after the hottest part of the day. Those twelve blocks are too much for my elder dog, so she rides in a trailer while I bike. Biking is nice because it reduces the time we have to spend in the sauna, by about half, and actually produces a breeze. It’s like being in a convection oven.
At first the house, which has been closed against the heat feels nice and cool in comparison – 85 instead of 95. I grab an ice pack from the fridge and sit down with my feet up and a cold glass of water. For lunch I will have whatever is easy, quick, and preferably can be eaten raw. Cold fruit is good. I sit with my feet in ice water for a bit, then I go upstairs to catch up on my email.
The upstairs is even hotter. The sheer exhaustion it causes means I read some of the important messages, but hardly ever answer. It is too hot to read or write with any clarity. Even the birds are no where to be seen or heard, and the feeders outside my window, hang dormant from the tree limbs. So I lay down in front of the fan with the intention to -sleep now, and get up in the cool of the evening to work-. Sleep is a euphemism. It’s more like a semi-concious stupor. Sometimes I reach a blissful unconciousness. More often it is the thrashingly troubled sleep of someone with a high fever, though it is too hot to actually thrash. Even the cushioning of the comforter and pillow sham are too much to bear to sleep on, and I strip the bed down to the sheet.
Around 9pm it is as hot inside as out, which has cooled a little. I open all the doors and windows and pray for a breeze. We have been lucky this week, and our night temps have gone down to the 50 degree range. For a while I sit on the porch swing and create my own little breeze. Sometimes people who don’t know any better go jogging by – weirdo’s! Usually it is neighbors, slowly walking their dogs in the relative coolness of the evening. Last night I slept with 2 fans and woke at 4 am to find I had actually pulled the sheet over myself. I reset my alarm and hoped to sleep until 7 or so. (No luck there – the cat’s alarm still went off at 6)
This morning my head is full of ideas, and I would like to get at some other tasks. I had thought I would get out on the lawn and pull out those weeds that my reel lawn mower doesn’t cut well. But as my neighbor says, “If it wasn’t for the Chickory and Queen Anne’s Lace, our lawns wouldn’t have a bit of green on them”.
The first time I visited the south my in-laws (new transplants) went on and on about how much their employers loved Northerners, because we worked so hard. Even though it was a cold for them November, the thought went through my head – that’s cause we’re too stupid to slow down when it gets hot, because in NY it only gets hot for a day or so at a time! One fellow went on and on in a sarcastic way about how the n*s loved a “house with a ‘poach’. (he always said it like that, instead of the way he usually spoke with a harder r ‘pour-ch’. ‘That’s all they want is to buy a little house with a poach to sit on”.
OK – a.) don’t use that word in front of my children, and b.) who doesn’t want a porch to sit on when it’s 90 degrees out? I seem to remember that we have a lot of screened in porches in CNY. (and now he has a huge screened in porch on the back of his house, in which he spends a lot of time sitting).
Twice this week I have had people look at me blankly when I mention how nice it has been that we have had cooler temperatures over night. “Oh, I wouldn’t know about that – I don’t go outside in the middle of the night.” That’s not the point. The point is you have your air conditioner on, and you do not have to be aware of the temperature outside. In the day time you have to suffer a little as you go from place to place. This is a little like the townspeople who are puzzled when I say “we needed the rain”. Needed the rain? The rain spoiled my plans, made it yucky getting to work, etc. Unless they are gardeners they don’t seem to link the idea of rain with food, and water to drink. It is just an inconvenience. This is the problem of our modern lifestyle in which we are so removed from the world around us, we are unaware of what is happening out there, so we don’t have to think about what we are doing that is causing the problem, or at our worst, we don’t even admit there is a problem.
Global warming? Climate change? What are you talking about?