Weekend Assignment: #275: What’s your favorite way to stay cool in the summer? Is this even an issue where you live?
Extra Credit: Was climate a significant factor in deciding to live where you do?
The Southern California dream: the endless summer. Bright, comfortably warm days hanging out at the beach, cool and pleasant evenings, no need to make contingency plans in case of rain. It’s reality – if you’re lucky enough to live in the stretch of Southern California west of the mountains and east of the Pacific Ocean. In some places, that perfect-climate range is only a few miles wide, and even that’s not always perfect; early summer mornings near the beaches can be overcast and foggy, and on some days you won’t see much sun except for a few hours in mid- to late afternoon. We call it the “June Gloom,” and I actually like it, since it tends to keep temperatures down for the whole day.
I don’t live in that special part of SoCal, though. My town is further inland and at a higher elevation, and as you move further into the state in both those directions, you’re reminded that if nature had been left alone here, we’d be living in the desert. And in these inland valleys, it gets hot. It’s a “dry heat,” yes – which is why we have “fire season” out here – which means you bake instead of stew, but it’s still hot.
But having lived in the hot and humid Southeast for much of my life, I find the hot and dry Southwest summers a bit more tolerable. At least there aren’t many mosquitoes out at night around here. Still, in the summer, I’m very glad to be living after the invention of air conditioning; my preferred ways to stay cool mostly involve staying inside and not going out much at all. And considering what air conditioning is probably doing to the environment, that may be just as well.
One nice thing about a dry climate is that the mornings and evenings actually are noticeably cool, and that’s when I don’t mind being outside, feeling the light breeze, and opening the windows to bring it into the house. Come the hot middle of the day, though, I’ll close the blinds and stay indoors with a book and my laptop. My husband is even less fond of heat than I am, so “going out” in the summer usually means seeing a movie, or maybe bowling with the kids. Theme parks, outdoors in the sun? Luckily, we can visit those year-round here, so we won’t go during the hot and crowded summer months. The beach? If we lived closer, we might go more often – in the morning, but we’d leave before the day got too late and the sun got too strong.
We’re lucky that we don’t have a lot of exposed power lines around here, so our electricity rarely goes out – since we’re staying in to keep cool, we need that!
As I mentioned, this isn’t my native climate, and I moved here because this is where my extended family lives. Having said that, though, the lack of harsh winters out here certainly didn’t hurt. As for the summers – as I said, I’m just grateful that air conditioning was invented!