Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Lack of Modern Conveniences

Like many places across the US, it was hot here last week. Incredibly hot. Brutally hot. The kind of heat that clings to you relentlessly, suffocatingly, like a too-tight turtleneck sweater. 120 degrees Fahrenheit on the blistered, molten pavement makes the phrase "hot enough to fry an egg" more reality than hyperbole. We didn't have the worst of it, either, as there were others who suffered far hotter temperatures than we did. And (joy!) there's more hot weather to come.

Living in an old log home has many advantages, one of which being the cooler environment the logs maintain. Until the dreaded Dog Days of Summer, that is, when day after day of the Three Hs (hazy, hot and humid) make this old house more like an oven. Since we also live without the modern convenience of air conditioning, each new day is an exercise in creative cooling techniques. Lots of ice, lots of outdoor grilling and lots of fans are what keep us sane as we slog through the heart and the heat of the summer.

My favorite cooling appliance:

This is my trusty desk fan. It's in surprisingly good shape given its advanced age, the specifics of which are anybody's guess. True, it no longer oscillates and sometimes it makes an odd creaking sound when it's first turned on, but it hasn't failed me yet. As I write this, the quietly whirring blades are pulling the evening air off the cooling grass through the single window of my office, making me comfortable, at least from the waist up.

I once read an article on similar antique fans in a past issue of Country Living magazine. I never realized these old appliances had heirloom value or appeal, nor had I ever considered my little blue friend a vintage collectible, but I do know that it has worth to me above and beyond any value derived on the antique market. This fan originally belonged to my parents, (again, the details are long forgotten) and it came into my possession because, sentimental sap that I am, nobody else wanted it and I couldn't bring myself to banish it to the auction pile or worse, the trash bin. I had an unexplained fondness for the old dear. It had been a constant summer fixture in our house for as long as I can remember. So to me, this fan symbolizes the lost summers of my youth, and oftentimes using it brings back snippets of summers past which I'd long forgotten:

~~ The timelessness of summer days, when the three months between the end of one school year and the beginning of another seemed to stretch on indefinitely;

~~ The scrape of the bricks on the back of my legs as I sat on the porch steps watching the column of ants march from their hills between the cracks of the sidewalk to the edge of the grass while the fudgesicle dripped through my fingers;

~~ The prickly jabs of the grass as I lay under the giant sugar maple in the side yard and watched the birds in the branches above me;

~~ The sun slowly shifting to the front of the house as the day progressed, leaving my bedroom cool and quiet in its wake. My mother would lay down to rest in the heat of the afternoon, and I would have a tea party or play with my doll house or, when I became older, listen to record albums and write in my journal;

~~ The reverberating crescendo and decrescendo of the locusts' song in the neighborhood trees, indicating the Dog Days of summer had indeed arrived;

~~ The special treat of just brewed mint iced tea, served in tall glasses with little "sweaters" and matching plastic coasters, the taste of which I've never been able to duplicate, even though I use the exact same ingredients;

~~ The smell of the freshly mowed grass and the staccato buzz of the bees in the spirea hedge as I waited impatiently for dusk so that I could catch fireflies in a jelly jar.

And accompanying all of this ... the gentle whirr of that little blue fan.

I don't think I'll ever part company with the fan. I'm sure some day the blades will cease to rotate as the motor dies and my husband will throw his hands in the air with a final, "I'm sorry. I can't fix it." Then I will give it pride of place on my shelf, a well-deserved rest for a faithful companion which brought so much comfort for so many years.

Thank you, my little blue friend. You're pretty cool.

1 comment:

  1. It’s pretty hot where I live, and I too need a desk fan a lot of the time, but mine is nothing like as dear to me as yours is to you. What wonderful memories you were able to conjure up; I could smell that grass and hear those bees.