I recently read an article by Rebecca J. Rosen in the July 14 issue of The Atlantic, "Keepin' It Cool: How the Air Conditioner Made Modern America" (http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/07/keepin-it-cool-how-the-air-conditioner-made-modern-america/241892/) where she praises this transformative modern technology.
As much as I appreciate the 78 degree indoor temperature at my house (especially after mowing the grass and weeding the garden in mid-afternoon July temperatures!) I am not so enamored of many of the other changes wrought by air conditioning that Rosen finds so praiseworthy.
Rosen writes that, "many [older] homes had porches where families could spend a hot day, and also sleeping porches with beds where they could ride out a hot night.... Besides housing design, people had other tricks: taking naps during the heat of the day, carrying hand-held fans around, and, of course, swimming."
She continues: "Houses [today] are designed not for ventilation but for central cooling systems. Porches, where they exist, are relics of another age, and few new homes include them. Families gather inside, in the comfort of 72-degree living rooms, to watch TV."
Perhaps it is time to re-invent the porch...where families can gather late in the afternoon to wave to passers-by, or to chat with neighbors who stop for a visit. Maybe a sleeping porch is not such a bad idea either. Imagine sleeping with a mild breeze blowing over you, listening to crickets, and watching lightning bugs flit by as your eyelids close in sleep.
Then, of course, there is the mid-day nap, funeral parlor fans...and swimming! Sure, I know that modern life (office jobs, school, etc.) doesn't leave much time for naps and mid-day swimming, but wouldn't it be nice to bring back just a little more of that sense of community and a slightly more relaxed lifestyle?
Wave when you walk by our house on Lawton Lane. We're often sitting on the porch in the morning, and in the late afternoon!
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Night Blooming Cereus Cactus, by Lou Ann. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072111.htm.