Steamy days and sticky nights

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.

11 thoughts on “Steamy days and sticky nights

  1. Really this belongs in a picture book. I don't know if the book is about the heat or if it is about something else, but this description of the heat makes me feel like I am sitting right in it. If you have read, Come On Rain!, you may remember the author describing the heat. It's such a powerful description of the incredible heat. Your words make me feel just like those words.

    I'm hoping the heat breaks soon. In the meantime, continue to live that story.



  2. I'm glad you are making good memories of life without air conditioning because I am not. I have had enough of this heat. I much prefer the cooler days when the windows can be open and I don't need to take three showers a day. (Of course, I think I am creating a story there, aren't I?)


  3. I did not grow up with air conditioning here in Central Ohio and I remember the feeling of trying to fall asleep while the house roasted at a mere 82 degree nights. Oddly, I look back on these sweltering nights with fondness. Unfortunately, our daughters will never know these nights. Both of them have allergies to everything green that grows and anything with feathers or fur. We go form furnace to AC…#missingout


  4. Beautiful slice of unairconditioned life! Target shopping, movies, and showers before bedtime love it. I have that same smugness that every year and every year I wonder, why didn't we get that air conditioning!


  5. I've never had air conditioning until I moved to this new place several years ago. Our old house was shaded beautifully & like you, only a few days of the year did I complain about the heat. I love your descriptions of the lovely ways to beat it, though, like paddle-boarding at dusk & popsicles while reading in bed. Lovely memories, Lisa. And yes, cooler is coming from us in the west. We've had the coolest & rainiest time in a long while this year-amazing. It's supposed to heat up to 90 this coming weekend, then cooler again. It's been a good summer!


  6. Yes, an air conditioner is only necessary a couple of nights out of the year, so we don't have one either. Fans do quite nicely as long as I don't have to move away from one. No stoves, no laundry, early breakfast, late suppers….all very familiar ways we deal with it here in Maine! We are in a house near the ocean, so it is almost always 5 degrees or more cooler in summer and warmer in winter here than the rest of the state. I, too, have a broken internal thermostat! If I could always have the temp between 60 and 80 I'd be very happy!


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