It looks like our spree of near 100° days is coming to an end. Next week temperatures are predicted to be back down in the 80′s. I’m very much looking forward to this.
But I’ve been surviving the heat this summer much better than I did last year, when I was still used to Seattle’s mild summers. I think we’ve finally figured out how to make hot days work for me, which is good news as I’m sure there are plenty more heat waves in our future.
We don’t have air conditioning, either the centralized or the box window kind. And while our cellar stays cool enough to store food well, its dirt floors, spiderwebs and single light bulb make it not such a great place to hang out to escape the heat.
So here’s what we do to cope:
While we don’t go down to the cellar to enjoy its cool air, it does keep the kitchen floor above it nice and cool, due to the lack of a subfloor and the tiny gaps between the floorboards. Bare feet and plenty of time in the kitchen is a must.
As we live out of sight from even our closest neighbors, we don’t have many curtains in our house, and we rarely use them to cover our windows. Relief from the heat is the exception. First thing in the morning on days that will be hot, we close all the doors and windows and draw the curtains to prevent hot sunlight from pouring in. The house stays closed up, keeping the higher daytime temperatures out, until near nightfall when the outside world has cooled off again.
We drink tons of water. We eat food that doesn’t require much heat-up-the-kitchen cooking time. We eat chunks of frozen watermelon, popsicles, and ice cream.
We get our outside work done in the morning, staying in the shade as much as possible, wearing sunhats and sunscreen, usually quitting to return inside by 11am. We won’t venture out again until the evening. This means we’ve sometimes done our evening relaxing in the middle of the afternoon and our afternoon work after dinner.
Our bedroom is on the second floor, which is almost always hotter than the main floor (as hot air rises). Last summer I would often sleep in the downstairs guest bedroom, but this summer, we turn a fan on at the foot of our bed, and I mist water from a spray bottle on my exposed skin. As it evaporates off in the fan-made breeze, I cool down very quickly. Before I’m completely dry, I’m usually asleep.
When I do get too hot, I’ve learned to love cool showers. No matter how hot I am, I can’t convince myself to jump into an icy shower. Instead I set the water to warm, get in, and then slowly turn the water colder and colder until finally I’m looking forward to stepping out into the hot air just to warm up.
And as a last resort, there are errands to run and movies to watch and friends to visit, all with air conditioning. We also have not thoroughly explored our local swimming options.
I know plenty of people who really prefer temperatures to be 90 or above. I don’t think I’ll ever be one of them. But I no longer dread them, which is a big improvement.