Posted by: morrowsl | July 11, 2013

Iced Coffee and Artificial Rain

ImageIced coffee always takes me back to childhood days when Mom would pour the morning’s leftover coffee into a mason jar with milk and sugar and ice, put the lid on and shake it till it frothed, then pour it into cups for us kids.  Is it any wonder I drink coffee every day?
And, while I don’t exactly enjoy dragging a hose and sprinkler around the yard in an attempt to keep the grass alive, there’s something soothing about the sound of an old water sprinkler that a sprinkler “system” just can’t top.
There are just some things that need to stay “old school” in this world.

Our outdoor air conditioner decided to hit the skids yesterday, the second day of a string reaching 100+ degree highs.  It is time.  We just replaced the indoor unit and we’ve never replaced one without having to replace the other.  I’m confident the problem will be fixed by this evening and am thinking that maybe this will, finally, be the end of our A/C woes.  So, I’m trying to stay positive and look for silver linings!!

It was a given, when I was a kid, that any house of more than three rooms would have areas that were closed off in summer.  Which makes me wonder, why even have a house with more rooms that you obviously need, but that’s something to ponder another day.  There’s only one such room in my current house, but the present situation warranted shutting off all but one of the bedrooms last night when we went to bed.  My room is at the very back of the house, farthest from the “dog room” where our hard-working portable A/C unit is chugging away, so I moved to the living room sofa for the night.

In the process of shutting down the house last evening and trying to maximize on the cooling power of the portable, I was tossed back in time to our old house at 301 N. Lyndalyn with its swamp cooler and attic fan.  I’m not sure it ever got as hot back then as it does now.  I could fact-check it, but I’m not really that interested.  I know there were certainly freakishly hot days that old people would conjure up in their memories if you complained to them about the heat.  But I wonder if we had as many summers of triple-digit days.  Then too, I spent most of those summer days half naked and outdoors, usually up to my neck in water.  When we were out of school and Daddy was at work, it was a pretty common practice to hang out with him at “the station”, a full-service gas station he owned.  To cool off, we’d drag a washtub around to the back of the building and fill it with water.  Then we’d take turns plopping down in our “swimming pool”.  There was always the hose to drink from or splash in if we weren’t at the lake or grandma’s house on the river.  So, hot wasn’t something that even registered in my mind back then.  And certainly my tolerance for heat was much greater when I was a kid.

I don’t recall when, exactly, we got a swamp cooler, but I do know it was a life-saver and one of my favorite things about that old house.  It hung in one of the south-facing windows in the dining room, which was just off the kitchen and really just the opposite end of a long rectangle that started at the front door where the living room was situated.  The air from that big cooler would swirl over our heads as we ate dinner then slowly sink to the floor leaving little pockets of cold for later when we’d pile down in front of the TV.  The only drawback was that the cooler required water to make cold air and it wasn’t connected to a water source, so when it started to get warm inside, someone, usually me, had to go outside and stand there spraying it with a water hose until the reservoir filled.  Of course I’d be sweat-soaked to the skin by the time I went back inside and hitting that cold air would give me giant goosebumps, so being the water bearer did have its rewards!

Also, before the cooler, we kept our windows open most of the time.  The nights would oftentimes be as “still as the throttle on a funeral train”, as John Prine puts it, so the open windows brought no relief.  Mom or Dad would always twist the timed dial on the attic fan to its maximum setting before going to bed and somehow that old fan found cool air to pull through the screens and over my body.  The wood-sash window was near the foot of my twin bed, so I’d flip over and sleep “upside-down” to catch the breeze.  I’d drift off with the smells of mother’s flowerbeds in my nose and the sounds of crickets in my ears.  And always, always, as soon as that timer stopped, my eyes would snap open and I’d head for the hallway to turn it on again.  Usually with my mother hollering, “Sherrreeeee, turn that thing OFF!”

After I’d gotten older and moved out, Daddy installed a window-unit air conditioner and things just never were the same.  By then, all the newly built houses were brick and had central air, two things that convinced me that all my friends must be rich!!  But those houses never seemed as comfortable or pleasant as our old pier and beam wood-sided house with its swamp cooler and attic fan, and yes, it’s water sprinkler and leftover coffee.

Maybe I should suggest we add an attic fan…


Responses

  1. Thoughts of you sleeping with your head at the foot of the bed make me miss you even more (’cause I know you do it here sometimes!)!! It sounds like the most magical of childhoods…

    • One reason I sleep SO well in the little room at the top of the stairs… it reminds me of “home”!!

  2. I so look forward to enjoying your morning cup with you…thanks 🙂


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