HERD ABOUT IT? by Ana Grarian
One of the joys of CNY life is the opening of doors and windows. In our northern climate, houses are sealed against the cold sometime in October. Screens are replaced by storm windows and doors, sheets of plastic go up over drafty places and foundations are buffered with bales of straw. In many homes curtains go up at the foot of the stairs to block warm air from going upstairs, and conserving heat and $$$. Inside and outside porch doors are closed as we dig out the boots, coats, mittens and scarves. Winter is a hunkering down time where we live in constricted spaces. Then comes spring. Doors and windows open to the song of birds and those early sweet breezes and glimpses of green renewal. There are tiny tastes of this spring fever in January and February. Any day the thermometer reaches 50 degrees is a chance to turn down the thermostat and fling open the doors, if only for an hour or so, and sweep out the cobwebs and colly-wobbles. Then March sweeps in with heavy, wet blizzards and April with cold rains, but May sees us tearing down and putting away the fortifications, and for the stalwart, turning off the furnace (many folks have a rule that the furnace only operates from Oct 15 to May 15).
By June the windows have been permanently propped open, except for frantic closings during thunderstorms. Doors, if closed at all, are screen doors that flap and slam with the comings and goings of children and dogs. Decks and porches sprout chairs and swings, and hammocks appear under trees.
That’s been slowly changing, and the past couple of years have seen us hunkering down against the heat of summer. We’ve always known that if you close up the house in the cool of morning, the house will stay cool relative to the outside. Then in the evening you open the house up again. But these tactics were usually reserved for a stretch of hot, humid days in late July or early August. Now it seems we get a brief stretch of freedom in May and then the summer heat blasts until mid-Septeptember. Of course, for those who choose to use A/C the house is closed up like a mausoleum, and once inside, folks rarely venture out of doors.
We use the closed house approach on days we are away at work. It feels good to come in at the end of the day to a cool house, and since we are in town, the doors have to be locked against intruders while we are away. On the days we are at home I use a rotating approach, closing off curtains, rooms and doors as the sun seems to circle the house, and then opening them as the sun passes. On very hot days of course I have to shut things up or we are uninhabitable by noon.
We have been blessed for several weeks now with nights that cool down around 60, giving the house a chance to exhale. It is wonderful for sleeping, and a good night’s sleep prepares me to soldier on through the hot, humid afternoon. But those clear skies which allow for those cool nights, are the reason we are lacking in rain. There is no such thing as a free lunch, everything comes at a cost.
Nowadays, many folks don’t know this life. Mom and Dad work 5 days a week and the kids are camped away for the summer. The house is always closed up for the day, and the porch door doesn’t sing. I remember days when I had to stop and think how many, and which kids were outside; who was visiting who.
“Don’t let the door slam!” rang out just in time to hear the door bang shut……. I miss it.