There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. – Leonard Cohen, Anthem
I missed posting last week—my life was on hold. Other than going to my job, I didn’t do much except fixate on one thing: the temperature. I felt like I’d been teleported to Arizona and I waited impatiently for things to go back to normal. I compulsively checked both the weather app on my phone and the National Weather Service site for the hourly and long-range forecasts. Most homes here don’t have AC—it’s been considered unnecessary in a place that might have 1-2 hot weeks a year (and rarely back-to-back). Per the Seattle Times on July 8th, we are about to tie our record of 15 consecutive days over 80F (27C). Most days have reached at or above 30C.
My goal has become to think like an engineer. To supplement the two tower fans I already had, I bought two inexpensive box fans and have been trying different configurations of window placement and timing to get the hot air out and the cool air in. For a couple hours each day, my condo reaches a high just 1-2 degrees C below the outdoor temperature. Last week, I sat around in my underwear a lot looking at Netflix and Facebook and apologizing to the cats for the heat and the fans. I get up at 5AM daily to open the patio doors to maximize the lowest indoor temperature before closing all the windows and blinds at 7AM when it starts getting hot again.
I’m trying to save $, so I looked to the Mr Money Moustache blog for tips on fan and AC use and got a reminder that the best thing for me would be heat (re)acclimation. I realized I’d been in denial: based on forecasts, this was likely going to be the “new” normal for the rest of summer and I needed to suck it up.
How easy it was for me to get stuck by the weather—something I have absolutely no control over. I was so attached to my storyline of the PNW having a moderate climate that I was not facing reality. If I’m not in the direct sunlight for long and I’m drinking water, the temperature is not a risk to me*—this was all about my emotional reaction to the physical discomfort and to the inconvenience of not using my heat-producing appliances when I wanted to.
And there have been pluses: I sit outside at night on my little deck now and I’m eating more fruit and vegetables. It’s also been an opportunity for compassion and gratitude. I contemplate the heatwave in Pakistan where it reached 45C last month. I’m thankful for having the options of going to the office, a movie theater, a mall, or the library for some AC relief.
I know that after another week without AC and with daily walks earlier and earlier in the evenings, my body would have naturally started to acclimate anyway. It’s just going to be easier now that I’m not wasting energy fighting it. That doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to autumn.
*It may be a risk to others, depending on age and health.
- Leonard Cohen’s Anthem (SOURCE: youtube).
- National Weather Service
- AC: air conditioner
- Why is the Northwest so Warm? (SOURCE: Cliff Mass weather blog)
- Seattle poised to tie record for string of 80-degree temps (SOURCE: Seattle Times)
- The World’s Most Efficient Air Conditioner (SOURCE: Mr. Money Moustache)
- PNW: Pacific Northwest