Growing up on the peninsula south of San Francisco, nobody had air conditioned houses. The natural “air conditioning” would roll over the hills from the foggy Pacific every afternoon at roughly 2 o’clock, and nestle into the valleys between the ocean and the bay. It’s a pretty narrow isthmus of land, and being surrounded by water made things naturally cool off every evening, no matter how hot it was earlier. I remember 100 degree days, but not too many- and never for more than a few days at a stretch.
When I moved to the northwest, I was surprised when the home we bought had central cooling. I wondered why on earth a house in the Evergreen State would need air conditioning. Central heat? Sure (No house I lived in in California had central heat, believe it or not. It just wasn’t needed. 70 degrees in May, 80 in July, 65 in December- a wall heater was more than ample.)
My first year here, I vowed I wouldn’t stoop to using something like central air. Then July hit, and it wasn’t so much that it got hotter, but it did that too- it was the days of hot stretched on- a heat wave. And at night, there was no cooling fog rolling over the foothills to chase the sweltering day. The first summer, I remember looking at the thermometer at midnight, and being shocked (shocked!) that it was still almost 86 degrees. At midnight! The California girl in me was completely offended.
So I turned on the air. And for the next eight years, I loooooved my air conditioning. My big fancy house had the biggest, baddest air conditioner, and that sucker kept that giant fancy house like a freaking ice box in July. And I loved it. I loved every minute of it. Except sometimes. When the California hippie girl would poke her head out and wonder what the heck? Then I would feel bad.
Now that we are in Little House, for the first time since we moved from California, I am again without central air. Along with my gleaming floors, and fancy French wallpaper, I surrendered my icy July air. But along with all the other things, this has surprised me. As it starts to heat up (finally!) I find I’m kind of comforted by the hot air. I find myself feeling more in tune with the rhythm of the season- the at the end of June, you are supposed to be warm, you are supposed to feel the heat standing in your kitchen window, while you wonder if the berries are ripe yet, and should you make jam today? Having my nightgown be limp, and the window fan whirring is oddly comforting. I feel more in touch with who I am this year.
Now if you ask me in August, the charm may have worn thin, and I may be hot and grumpy again. But for now, I kind of like this summer thing.