Summer arrived in New England last weekend and as the heat settled over and around us, my smug “It’s so great to live without air conditioning” attitude left town, quickly. As I sat yesterday in front of the fan on the porch in my bathing suit reading my book being as still as possible and yet dripping uncontrollably with sweat, I wanted to cry, “Uncle. Okay, maybe I’m too old to do this anymore.” I wondered how much those lightweight window air conditioners cost. And would they be sold out at Target already? Ah- but a trip to Target… I could wander the aisles and load up on things I don’t need and never before contemplated buying, all the while enjoying the air conditioning there.
I’m told the heat will break later today when storms from the west roll in. And the long range forecast looks lovely- highs in the upper 70s and low 80s- well within my inner thermostat challenged comfort zone. That’s good, because by last night everyone was cranky. The teenagers were restless and the dogs snarled at each other. Nobody wanted to fix dinner and starting a load of laundry was out of the question.
But here’s the thing- these heat waves, and the ways we’ve coped over many years in this tiny, antiquated summer cottage by the sea- all of that is part of our story. Part of the layers and years of memories here. And when the heat breaks, or when we sit around the table recalling steamy days and sticky nights from years ago, we laugh. The trips to Target- we do that. Just for the a.c. We go to midday movies for the same reason. Some of us sneak Popsicles up to bed and lie in an almost dark room, relying on the fading daylight as long as possible to read, waiting to turn on the light that will heat the room. We pull out tubes and float after dinner from one side of the bay to the other, letting the current do the work, and walk home just as the last light fades from the sky. My girls are older now, so last night it was paddle boarding at dusk. We debate the best position for fans, and argue over which windows to open and shades to lower. We ban all use of the stove and consume more ice cubes than you can imagine. We eat late dinners and early breakfasts and sip cold tea. And take cold showers just before bedtime. It’s all part of our story.