Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Living The Seasons

I tried something this summer that I thought I'd never have the guts to try: I didn't turn on the air conditioning. We had a late and soggy Spring that helped to keep everything cool, so even though I was one million months pregnant until late June, I wasn't boiling. The furnace ran constantly last Winter with little difference in warmth, and the day or two I tried to cool the house, it struggled vainly to move the temperature. Off it stayed.

I managed by opening as many windows as possible to allow the slight and inconsistent river breezes to help cool us. Since we live in the mountain west, it cools off at night pretty quickly. The boys ran around in almost nothing. The heat during a few hours of late afternoon was almost oppressive upstairs, but downstairs it was cool enough to live comfortably.

There was something about embracing the season that felt right. Summer should be hot. The morning should be cool. The afternoon breeze should blow the sheer curtains gently. You should feel the relief as the sun disappears behind the trees and the rays push their force somewhere else. I dressed Lulu in onesies for bed time and turned on a fan to cool her room. I did miss a ceiling fan, but portable fans helped (especially when nursing a hot little baby on a leather couch.)

It wasn't until a mid August Sunday afternoon and a visit from my mother-in-law that prompted me to turn on the air to keep her comfortable.

We were sitting on the couch when the ceiling started dripping. And then water was pouring like a light faucet from the ceiling. Our air conditioner unit, the one I hadn't used all summer, was broken. It had probably been broken as part of the furnace for months, that's why it had run all last Winter and barely warmed our home. We turned off the air and the leak stopped.

This Fall, as the temperature drops into the 50s, I long to keep the windows open as long as possible. I'd sleep with them open in January if I could. It's Fall. It should be chilly. The boys need sweat shirts and socks, an extra sweater, down puffs. Lulu wears fleece pajamas and a cozy quilt to bed; behind her drawn curtains are shutters too keep in the warmth and barrier the cold.

Sometimes I think we hide behind our furnaces and fireplaces instead of feeling the seasons. Terrified to be hot. Scared of being cold. Feeling your rings grow tighter in June and then slip off your fingers in December. Insisting on t-shirts on single digit days, Ugg boots in July. We don't try to live in harmony with our world. We fight the weather instead of finding the joy in the constant change. It will be icicles, rain, heat, chill again and again. Live where you are.


whitneyingram said...

I always notice people that doesn't dress for the seasons. Like people not wearing a coat when it is snowing outside. Idiots. Plus, there is some seriously adorable winter coats and accessories. Why miss out on those?

Tamsin said...

I grew up in one of the coldest, snowiest parts of Norway, and would always sleep with my window open a crack all year round. This is the same part of the world where people also bundle their babies up in the middle of winter and let them nap outside, under blankets. The general idea is that fresh air is good for you :)

La Yen said...

No. I refuse.

jennie w. said...

I'm going to pat you on the head condescendingly as I turn on our A/C. With 90 days over 100Âș this summer, we spent all day pretending we were cool.

AzĂșcar said...

You Texas people. *shakes fist* You live in Hades.

I live in a lovely micro climate that is 5-10 degrees cooler than the rest of the city in the summer, and 5-10 degrees warmer in the winter. Thanks, river!

Delirious said...

I rarely turn on the heater or the air conditioner because of the EXPENSE! My rule of thumb is that if I'm too hot to function, or too cold, on it goes. But I turn it off as soon as possible.

Middle-aged Momma said...

Great, great post. Love your writing.
I couldn't agree with you more. If I was a streaker, I'd streak in late January.

Kalli said...

I felt enough seasons growing up. Cold, colder, and then hot.

I do have a testimony of dressing appropriately and keeping it moderate. We didn't turn the AC on until mid July and the heat until a few weeks ago. Even then we keep it at 70 because mama can't pay the bills otherwise.

Although in my car, all bets are off. I didn't drive a car with working AC until 3 years ago and you better believe that crap is blasting.

Mary said...

I could do the no AC thing in the summer, but I worry that my sweet husband would literally divorce me. He gets ragey if the house temperature gets up to 78.

TheOneTrueSue said...

I like the idea of this - living with the seasons - mostly because it would benefit me financially.

No, shivering children in the basement, we're not freezing because mama's stingy with the heat, we're LIVING WITH THE SEASONS. Getting in tune with nature.


(nice writing here, btw)

soybeanlover said...

We live in an old, uninsulated house, with no central climate control, and while it kinda sucks, it makes me feel hearty. Preach on Sista'!

Kids should not have to wear footie PJ's in July because grandpa can't handle the heat. Our bodies always get surprised going to and coming back from the US.

Laura: The Sushi Snob said... July I found out I was pregnant, and then our AC broke. Let's just say it was hell, and I nearly bowed down and worshiped those repairmen who fixed my wall unit.

I'm also from Texas, where air conditioning is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Amy said...

Yes. Easy for me to say, living in the San Francisco Bay Area in a house made of glass. Back when I lived in Texas, not so much. That place only exists because of AC. Before that they had to give the land away for free to get anyone to live there.