by Robbie White
I live in an historic neighborhood, so I to think about our connection with those who lived before us in our home. I often think of how things were “back then." Our house was built in 1903. Most of our neighborhood came along in the decades around statehood. These past days have sparked many thoughts on how things were different before air conditioning.
I think of trying to sleep in a house with no relief form the heat. Then, I look at the lovely windows in my home. If those windows were opened, a nice cross breeze would cool each room of this house. A walk around the outside with this thought in mind reveals yet another reason for nurturing that huge pecan tree that has shaded the house for so many decades. In fact, most of our bedrooms are shaded in one way or another by trees, or else they are on the north side. I wonder if this house had a sleeping porch, screened from bugs but open on all sides. These days, we have so many places to cool off during the days—the library, a movie theater, church, the mall, etc. But we still have to sleep at night, and I sleep better when it is cool.
I recently read the book, The Help by Kathryn Stockett. The book is set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960’s. Electric air is a new thing for the residents of the Southern town. In one scene, the main character is trying to sleep in her parents’ plantation home, which had been built in the late 19th century. She eventually ends up on the back porch remembering how many nights she slept on a cot out there in summer. In this and other stories of days before air conditioning, the heat becomes a force that shapes the lives in the narrative. How close those people lived to the natural world.
My kids and I hid from the heat most days this past week. We stayed inside where it was relatively cool. We watched movies, read books and worked around the house. We could be oblivious to the heat if we chose. It’s like that with a sustainable lifestyle. It’s easy to let the car idle in this heat because it is so uncomfortable or drive the car instead of bicycling on an errand. It is a challenge for me to step away from all that technology and be one step closer to the way things ought to be.
How do you make your life more sustainable? In what ways are you closer to the natural world? Do you grow your own vegetables or compost your lawn and kitchen waste? Maybe you attended the local food fair at Harn Homestead last week? Or perhaps you support local farmers? I look forward to your ideas.
Let’s celebrate our choices together on Fresh Greens!