Weather watching


Every time I woke up the rain was falling outside the open window. The breeze was cool.

But when the alarm went off at 6 a.m. and the birds chattered loud in the hedge the rain had stopped. I walked to work through puddles and thought it was warm for an overcast morning.

And like every day I checked the forecast today, planning my chores and scheduling meals by the projected highs and lows of the temperatures.

It’s odd to me, how summer heat changes how I live my life. I grew up in Texas, where summer starts by May and the intense heat doesn’t lift until late fall. And that heat was easily 15 degrees more than the temperatures I’m planning for around here.

But our small home is without air conditioning.The gas flame on our stove heats the front of the house so quickly, and the late afternoon sun pours in the front windows and we have to pay attention, plan our days to keep the house cool.

We close windows and pull heavy curtains closed in the mornings, trapping cool night air inside; we eat light meals or using the microwave instead of the stove; we use fans and linger in the cooler, darker back rooms.

I plan menus by the temperature: it will be 91 degrees on Wednesday so we’ll have salad. Tonight will cool off so I’ll make rice, bake granola before we need it.

I plan chores by the weather, too. Laundry on a hot day so that it dries fast on the line. Cleaning on a rainy day because it doesn’t matter.

And it seems that every summer it catches me by surprise. I seem to forget that I need to pay attention. I make venison stew for dinner one Sunday but it’s sticky-hot and though we’re hungry, we don’t want the soup. We end up eating bread and think-sliced salami and grapes instead and I remember what I forgot since last summer.

When you live without air conditioning (even in Western Pennsylvania where summers aren’t that bad), you live according to the weather.

So today I check the forecast before thinking about meals.

I won’t be making stew.

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