Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Refrigerate Me, Please

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I traveled to Ohio to visit with friends and family. Memorial Day is an interesting holiday in that part of the country weather-wise. It is generally considered the kick-off of the summer season, and more often than not the temperatures are vaguely summer-like, with highs in the upper 60's to lower 70's. Every now and then, though, there will be a Memorial Day that is more reminiscent of winter than summer. I recall my last year of working my way through college at a country club, we had to cancel just about all of our planned outdoor guest activities because the highs couldn't find their way out of the 40's.

This past weekend was exactly the opposite. It hit 90 every day we were there. Honestly, I don't ever recall it being so warm in May in the 30-plus years I lived up that way. It brought home the fact that folks in Ohio have a different relationship with their air conditioners than we have in the south. Here, our relationship resembles a committed monogamous marriage; we are pretty much tied to our AC, for better or worse. In Northwest Ohio, it's more of a friend-with-benefits kind of thing.

It turned out that the AC at my sister's house, where we stayed the first night, was broken entirely; which she had no way of knowing since she hadn't had it on yet this year. It was too hot to sleep in the bedroom, so I spread out on the living room sofa under the ceiling fan with the screen door wide open. The next two nights, we stayed with friends, and while their AC worked just fine, they took a very strategic approach to cooling; allowing the house to heat up during the day, then turning on the AC for a little bit just before bed to "cool things down" before turning it off for the rest of the night.

Looking back, I lived most of the first 30 years of my life with virtually no AC. We survived by keeping every available window open during the summer months and having a fan in almost every room. We also had a basement which, although musty-smelling, was pleasantly cool. Truth is, in Northwest Ohio really hot days are the summer exception rather than the rule, and, even then, it typically cools off once the sun goes down, making for decent sleeping even when the highs are in the 80's. There were always a handful of nights, though, when it was just too hot to sleep.

My father bought a window-mount air conditioner in the summer of 1975. It was a short-lived respite, though. He said it caused him to get colds so he got rid of it. I suspect the electric bill might have had an impact on his decision, as well.

I got my first real taste of air conditioning when Janet and I were first married and moved into a starter apartment. I don't really recall much about that, other than I'm sure we used it judiciously as we barely had two nickels to rub together in those days. When we moved to the Little House on the Highway, we didn't even have a fan for the first summer, and I recall several nights sweating in bed trying not to make skin-to-skin contact with Janet and hoping against hope that the beagle wouldn't want to cuddle.

Our move to the condo in Three Meadows was the start of our climate-controlled life, with central air a "luxury" we could finally afford, and it goes without saying that air conditioning is a big part of our lives at the Wynfield Creek Homestead where 90 degree days are the rule, not the exception. Is that environmentally friendly? Maybe not, but laying awake in bed dripping sweat unto your sheets is no way to live. I'll find some other way to save energy; refrigerate me, please!

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