The other day, when I asked a friend if she ever remembered a summer hotter than last year's, she looked at me quizzically and said she just didn't know, she hadn't noticed. Hadn't noticed??? Last summer California had a record heat wave. When we moved into our current home, we were so taken by its charms that we overlooked one important element -- no air conditioning. Hence, our first task each morning was to turn to the paper's weather forecast to see what we were going to have to contend with that day and to make our plan for how we were going to stay as cool as possible. Depending on the temperature, some days we closed up the entire house until the sun had passed overhead; other days there was nothing to do but plan on taking a dip in the pool every hour. If there was a slight breeze, we opened every window to catch any stray air blowing our way. Each day was an exercise in strategic cooling techniques! I could have told you the hourly temperatures, exactly what time the sun passed over the top of my house, and what time sunset (and blessed coolness) occurred each day. This city girl was so in tune with Mother Nature, you wouldn't have believed it. So when my friend looked at me with a puzzled, ''who cares?'' look on her face, I realized that not everyone was obsessing about the weather the way I was.
Now, summer isn't my favorite season -- I loathe being too hot, I am afraid of most of the flying, stinging bugs, I resent the fireworks that scare my dogs, and don't even get me started on bathing suits...! But as I pondered my friend's reaction, I realized that summer had given me a huge gift -- I was bonding with the season in a way that you just can't do if you are cloistered inside an air-conditioned house or office all day. When the cherry tomatoes I planted didn't thrive, I knew it was because of the record heat, and I moved the pots into a more shaded area. When the water in my pool evaporated as quickly as I put it in, I knew why. I figured out the best time to water my lawn, the best time to sit in my garden, and the sweet coolness of an evening dip in the pool after a long, hot day. I have a whole new appreciation for what summer means to us as human beings. Don't get me wrong -- thank goodness for a/c -- but my summer without it was a great learning experience. I hope I can keep my cheerful outlook as we begin our 2nd air-conditioner-less summer. It just makes fall that much sweeter!