Life has been busy here on the mini-farm. Our central air conditioning went out on us in the beginning of April – again! So, to punish the antique system, I decided to leave it broken until it promised to behave – or until we could afford a new system. Unfortunately, the sticky heat of summer is coming upon us at an alarming rate, while the funds for replacing the system are moving at the rate of continental drift. I fear that being the only one in this staring contest with eyes, I’ll be forced to blink first.
It’s annoying to think how quickly we’ve come to consider air conditioning in the South to be a necessity and not the luxury my grandparents regarded it. I’ve thought a lot about my grandparents and great-grandparents lately and I’ve been grateful for this century plus old home that was built long before the days of air conditioning. With high ceilings and windows poised to catch even the slightest hint of a breeze, my old home has been far more tolerable without air conditioning on these ninety plus degree afternoons than our last home, built in 2003 would have been. And thanks to my friend Renee Stewart, I was able to identify the hidden treasure of the functioning whole-house attic fan that not only vents heat from my prodigious attic, but also sucks in cooler air through the open windows, filling in for absent breezes.
As I bustle around in my large country kitchen with ancient cabinets, washing dishes by hand in my sink under the window, I pause in the evening to catch a hint of the cooling breeze across my face. I can’t help but remember Mama Boley’s kitchen, larger and wider than mine with a lovely walk-in pantry. If I close my eyes I can smell the jasmine from the vine just outside my back door, standing wide open to chase the heat from dinner preparation from the house.
When my husband and I had children, our experience with the spoiled, technology-addicted youngsters of our acquaintance soured us on the need to keep up with the Joneses, or to provide the latest gadgets for our offspring. By mutual agreement, we decided to keep our lives and the lives of our children simple. Television and the Internet are our modern vices. We were both raised by people impacted by the Great Depression. We both understand how quickly life’s little necessities can be recategorized as luxuries with a change in circumstance. The PS2s, Wiis, i-Pods and Droids that our friends and their children can’t seem to live without have yet to find their way into our lives. Although for the sake of full disclosure, I did go find an inexpensive MP3 player to use at the gym when my ten year-old Sony Discman finally ceased to function.