Inside the Outside
One of my strongest recollections from childhood is of being overly hot. It seemed like I was always hot. Of course, what I am remembering is the heat in Granny’s house through humid, Alabama summers. I am remembering how hot it was in her unairconditioned kitchen, and how she would stand over her stove sweating as she fried cornbread and pork chops in cups of Crisco, and cooked canned green beans to limp deaths. It must have been ninety degrees in that kitchen, or more.
Most of my memories of Granny come with a sheen of perspiration across her upper lip. It was hot. I think she was only pretending to hate for me to slip ice cubes down the back of her pants.
Hot inside, we would go outside into the domain of the mosquito. Since mosquitoes love nothing so much as a nip of me, I would be generously hosed down with OFF! bug spray, until I was tacky with the stuff, making the dirt from the mostly sand and soil yard cling to me–and forget trying to wipe the dirt off. That just made bug spray mud.
Granny’s porch wasn’t much cooler than the house, but at least sometimes the air would stir, or you could get up a bit of a breeze on the porch glider.
There was a window unit in my dad’s old bedroom, and Granny would turn that on for me, but I would still end up so hot that my sweat would stick me to the topside of the goldenrod, polyester bedspread. It did help me develop the skill of being very, very still.
See, in order to get full benefit of that window unit, I had to perch on the edge of the double bed on my knees, stretching my torso and neck up so that I could catch the cold air on my face. Move an inch back or down and it would just blow the top of my scalp. Move a fraction of an inch forward and I was in the floor. Stillness. Zen. But not quiet. I could medidate to the sound of a window unit air conditioner like most people can medidate to the sound of a brook.
I was thinking about that last night, lying awake under the ceiling fan, just a little bit too warm. Texas is hotter than Alabama, but lacks the wet, wool blanket of humidity I grew up in. And thank goodness. I hate being hot.
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