It’s been hot. Temperatures in the mid nineties, dew points in the seventies, heat indices in the 100s—tropical. My air conditioner ran for five consecutive days—unusual for me. In my memoir, God Never Hurries, I wrote: I do not like an air-conditioned home life. I prefer being outside, even if it is only through an open window. I do not want to go soft in the air-cooled house. I like living more in rhythm with the weather if it’s hot, slow down, adjust my life (clean the basement). Nevertheless, I had central air installed. But I don’t turn it on—only when I can’t adjust my life—only when its too hot for the birds to sing—only when there’s no hope of a wind shift from the east—only when I can’t adjust my life. I had my air conditioner installed when my aging parents came for extended visits. It made life easier for all of us.
The biggest adjustment I made these past five days was to take my yellow-lab, Ben, to the dog park early in the morning while it was still mostly shady, and take another short walk after sundown around the neighborhood. Once around the park and Ben was walking slowly toward the gate. One day three black dogs waited at the gate ready to go home to their air-cooled lives while their owner tried to coax them around the park one more time. I guess we are all going soft in our air-cooled houses.
My three grandchildren were at a summer camp this past week. I worried about them in the extreme heat. (People died in this last heat spell--mostly elderly.) But I envied my grandchildren too. They were coping and adjusting to the weather like I use to do. And I also became very aware that I too am rapidly becoming an aging parent.
Last night when Ben and I went for our walk the dew point had dropped into the sixties, and the bright moon was growing to its soon-to-be fullness in clear, dark sky. I thought about turning off the air when I got home even though the temperature was still 85 degrees at 9:00 p.m. But when we returned home I was damp with perspiration and Ben was breathing heavily so I reluctantly left it on. Waking at 5:00 a.m. and hearing the birds faintly singing, I got out of bed, opened the back door and heard their full chorus in cooled morning air. I shut the air off and gratefully opened windows to a breeze, much less humidity, and then got in bed and let the birds sing me back to sleep. When I woke again, I felt a new kind of energy in my body and fresh air in my lungs. Maybe I should clean the basement the next time it gets hot. It sure needs it.