“It’s Not The Heat…”

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Until I moved to a new part of the United States, I had no idea how my body had adapted to the weather cycle of Western Oregon where I lived for fifty years. It rains a great deal there, in lots of drizzly days rather than in thunderstorms. It rarely snows; in fact an inch or two brings the city to a halt until it melts. The summers are idyllic, with low humidity and temperatures usually in the high 70’s or 80’s. Several times each summer the temperature soars, but it is almost always cool at night. We never owned an air conditioner either in our home or in our car for most of my life. Open windows and fans always cooled things off.

After nineteen years, my body still seems not to have absorbed the reality of weather in New England. While I have become used to the winter snow, I have yet to internalize the reality of summer. Two phenomena throw me every time. First, throughout the summer there are “rain dates” in case thunderstorms occur during scheduled events. I had never experienced those drenching summer storms and am still startled by them. And humidity and I are never likely to get along. I still seem to experience it as a personal affront!

My husband, on the other hand, grew up in Mobile, Alabama and happily works outdoors in this heat and humidity. He doesn’t stop his long daily walks. It appears his body expects summers to feel like this. To my ever lasting gratitude, he installs window air conditioners throughout our home. Whenever I go into a room, I can turn on that appliance and cool off. The rest of the house can heat up again once I leave that spot.

Every night he throws open the windows and gets fans running. For him getting the temperature down from 85 to 65 is a real achievement. As for me, it still feels hot! To my body, mornings are supposed to be cool. And don’t get me started about towels never drying!

35 thoughts on ““It’s Not The Heat…”

  1. We are unused to temperatures above 25 C and high humidity here. A 30 C temperature in England can seem to be unbelievably hot and unbearable, with the associated humidity. That is even worse in a big city like London. Even in Beetley, it can fee stifling.We have small window openings, thick carpets, and aircon is rare, because we are set up for 9 months of cool temperatures and rain, with hot summers a rarity.
    So, I completely understand how you feel, Elizabeth.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. In my region in New Zealand – it’s a whole lot of humidity with nearly every day around 4pm we see black clouds and believe (without fail) great some cooling rain. Down it comes in a few bucket loads, the air clears momentarily – within an hour we are “wishing it hadn’t rained at all” … I don’t have air con or what they deem here reverse heating but that may be on the cards next year…

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      1. I’m Auckland which is not the capital but probably has the biggest population than any other city in NZ. If you do look at the North Island you will find that Auckland is squished between two harbours each with their own version of “weather”

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  3. I love our current weather. It’s in the mid 80’s now but feels like it is in the 90’s. I just went outside for a run and yesterday I rode over 30 miles in the same hot sticky weather. Somehow as long as I keep myself hydrated, it doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable, it makes me feel alive even when I’m drenched in sweat.

    But when it drops below, say 50F, I’m done. My challenge for the next autumn/winter is to figure out how to get past this very visceral reaction.

    As for me, I grew up in Vermont. It sounds a lot like the weather was closer to your description of Oregon than of where you are now, though. I think climate change has made things quite different there than when I was a kid. We never had A/C there either.

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    1. Upper Vermont, upper New Hampshire and Maine seem to have the summer weather I remember from Oregon. I love cold weather since I can always “put on another sweater”(my parents’ theme song).

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      1. Ha! Yeah, I think if it were just about weather and only for me I’d probably live somewhere like Pune – not too far from Mumbai – quite warm most of the time but not quite the same crazy monsoon weather.

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        1. Or Marathi. Or really, in bigger cities you can get by just fine with English. But it’s nice to be able to talk to everyone. Of course with 22 recognized languages (and a whole bunch more dialects) you’re never going to fully achieve that in India.

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        2. It definitely does. Even knowing a little French in rural Quebec was helpful. (I’ve since forgotten 99% of it – and it never was as good as my Hindi is today)

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  4. It’s all about how we grew up. When we moved to New England from the south it was no big deal to tough it out with heat and humidity. Pools, sleepover camp for a month, and fans did the job when we were young. Fast forward to when our kids were off to college, both in Maryland. They never had the heat of the south. We did our best to prepare them and warn them. Still, they were shocked. They both need the AC. We don’t. Love those fans and open windows.

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  5. Neither my wife nor I do well in the heat, so living right on the ocean of northwest California is ideal.

    I don’t remember talking to you before about your Oregon days (forgive me if I have as the old memory bank is far less reliable these days.) Where were you living? Our son attended school at Willamette University in Salem for his undergrad work.

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  6. My husband and I lived in central Virginia for three years while he was in grad school. I totally understand your pain when you talk about the towels never drying. I took to always throwing in a little bit if bleach every time I washed ours even if it did fade the colors a bit because otherwise they always smelled musty and mildewy. And in the summer the crackers were always stale, even when you had just opened the box!

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