I live in Michigan, which is currently in the middle of a heat wave. Today the high temperature was 95 degrees, but the heat index got as high as 104. The last few days were in the 90’s, and the next few are expected to be almost as bad as today. Aside from a couple of errands, I stayed inside all day, nice and cool, thanks to my air conditioner.
I practically grew up with A/C. My sister has allergies when she was small, so my dad had it installed before we were in elementary school. I’ve had it ever since, and I wouldn’t want to be without it. At least not at home. I don’t do well in heat. But sometimes, being without A/C is unavoidable.
When I was growing up, my family spent almost every summer weekend in Standish, Michigan, visiting my mom’s siblings and my dad’s brother. Five of my mom’s six brothers and sisters and my dad’s brother owned houses on the same street. Between the two families, we owned nearly half the street.
My sister and I always had a good time “up north,” as we called it. There were usually some cousins around, so we always had someone to play with. Until we got our travel trailer when I was 12, every one of my dad’s two-week work vacations was spent in Standish. The main drawback, aside from being away from our friends during the peak of the summer? Not a single house owned by any family member had A/C. And it could get hot, especially in my Aunt Bertha’s house (the one that my parents eventually owned) – hers was the largest, and it was two stories. Everyone had several box fans, but all they really did was move around the hot air. There were times when it was so downright miserable, my mom would take us kids into town, just so we could ride in the air conditioned car.
But we found ways to at least somewhat deal with the heat. We sat outside under the shade trees by the water, we barbecued instead of cooking in the houses, we swam in the lake, we drank pitchers of lemonade and kool aid. The nights were the worst, though – any daytime breeze would be long gone, but even with the windows wide open and fans whirring away, the air still hung like a hot, damp blanket.
My sister and I couldn’t wait to get home and out of that misery, and I think sometimes my parents were glad to go home to our air conditioned house too.
It’s on days like today that I think of those summer days spent in Standish without A/C, and I realize I’m very fortunate and grateful to have it. It is one appliance I wouldn’t want to be without.