The Wrong Lilies

The Wrong Lilies

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Summer, if you’ll pardon the slang, a’int what it used to be, if it ever was.

Time was that it was always hot, in the summer.  But it wasn’t as hot as it is now, in the spring, summer and fall.  Time was that it was hot in the summer, but street lamps didn’t melt, as they are reportedly doing in Oklahoma, and street paving didn’t buckle, as also has been reported.

When we were young, lo these many years ago, we didn’t have home air conditioning.  We had open windows and small oscillating fans in the southern summers.  The open windows let in what air there was, and the fans moved it around, without much lowering of temperature.  When we needed to get some respite from the heat, we either ate cold watermelon or found some place to swim, or went to the movies or tried to sleep outside in the backyard (because we didn’t have a sleeping porch).  One of my strongest childhood memories was playing outside in the shade of a clump of crape myrtles, because it was still cooler there than in an uninsulated house.  It wasn’t an old house at that time, but it was built by postwar builders and no thought was given to insulation, so it was hot in the summer and cold in the winter, unless one hugged the gas space heater we had (yep, only one, and we didn’t have that on at night for fear of a gas leak).

I don’t know what is causing this second year in a row of record heat and drought and crop damage.  I do know we still have watermelon and fans and crape myrtles and movies for comfort.  But the heat and drought now covering most of our country is not manageable with open windows and oscillating fans.  The heat we are having just now, 105 degrees (45.6 celcius), 107 degrees (41.7 celcius) would not be safely manageable in a tree-shaded, well-insulated house.  It is horrendous and often fatal for homeless folks or those who cannot obtain air conditioning. 

And it’s obviously not too comfortable for streets and street lamps.

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