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!
I'm with you — hiding out in the AC once we hit the triple digits out here in West Texas.
I'm with you — I stay indoors. I don't tolerate the heat very well, and people are always surprised by that when they find out I grew up in Phoenix. "What?? But you grew up in PHOENIX!!" The thing is, people who live in Phoenix stay in the lovely air conditioned indoors or in the pool during the day!
I don't like the heat either, which I made clear in my posts about Disney, that's why I'm loving this summer in Chicago so far. We've only had a couple of days in the 90's. It's great! 🙂
TexasRed – I think it gets even hotter where you are. Yikes.
Terri – I married a SoCal native, so you'd think he'd be used to the heat, but he doesn't tolerate it very well either. His hibernation period is July through September.
Mike – Good to know. I hope it's still like that when I go out there for BlogHerCon next week! (And yes, I remember your comments about the heat when you went to Disney World. Florida in June, though…you knew what you were in for :-).)
I love your phrasing: "which means you bake instead of stew". So true!
My favorite way to stay cook in the summer is by staying indoors where its air conditioned. One bad thing about this time of year is how cold the office gets. And since I'm inside most of the day, I have to dress accordingly. Then when I go outside, it's blistering hot. Layers are key.
Wendy (Literary Feline) – Are you sure we don't work in the same office? Mine is like that too, and so I wear sweaters there year-round. I have a space heater to alleviate the air conditioning, which seems ridiculous in August. But fortunately, our building has an underground parking garage, so at least my car stays cool while I'm at work.
I love humid heat. Dry heat doesn't keep my hair out of my eyes the same way!
Jeanne – I have wavy hair, and humidity makes it big. I wasn't able to get decent control over it until I moved to a drier climate – which wasn't one of the reasons for doing it, but has turned out to be a nice perk.
I love the way to describe/explain Southern California weather. I've been there in heavy fog, in smog, in rain and occasionally under blue skies, but I don't think I've been there in a temperature under 70 or over 100. If we could afford it, and if it weren't for the smog, we'd probably move out there tomorrow!
Karen – If you stay near the coast, the temperatures will usually be in that range, maybe a little cooler in the winter. And if you get north of LA, the smog isn't that bad at all.
As screwed up as this state is right now, I'm feeling like the weather – along with the kids and extended family – is on the short list of reasons we stay here!