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Summer Sans the Central AC

These are long, hot days, but unless the mercury climbs above 95 degrees, I don't turn on our air conditioner.

A house without air conditioning has open windows, flapping curtains, and blinds that trill in the wind. It's one where smells are free to come and go. Out goes the arresting aroma of an Indian curry simmering on the stove; in comes the pungent pine scent of new-strewn mulch.

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When a storm blows up - as one often does these days - there's that timeless race to shut the windows before the rain comes in. It's an exercise I remember from my own childhood. "Is it blowing this way? No! Quick, it's pouring in the other side." How dull it is to ride through a thunderstorm in an air-conditioned house - unless, of course, it knocks out the electricity.

Open windows make houses noisier, but I like being connected to the outside world. I can hear the June bugs buzz, the wind chimes clang, the newspaper slap the driveway in the wee hours of the morning. I'm lulled to sleep by crickets and awakened with bird song. Doves coo outside our kitchen window. And, in case this sounds too idyllic, there's also the fortissimo roar of lawn mowers and the dependable hum of our neighbors' air conditioners.

But, above all this cacophony, I hear the screen door slam shut - over and over again. Now there's the sound of summer!

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