A swamp cooler is a fine thing, if the water line doesn't split, and the belt doesn't break, and the pump doesn't give out, and the float doesn't sink, and the weather isn't too hot, and the humidity's really low. We usually manage the last one out here pretty well, and when the stars are properly aligned and all the other things work out and the swamp cooler's chugging along, well, it's a fine thing.
If we're going to be technical (and you know me, I'm all about technical), we should really call it an evaporative cooler, that little box that sits on top of a great many houses in dry states. (Dry as in climate, not Prohibition.)
|"Swamp Cooler on a Hot Tin Roof"|
In it is a pump, a fan, a water reservoir, and a set of pads. The pump sends water over the pads, the fan blows air across them and into the ductwork, and as the moisture evaporates it cools the air. The swamp cooler uses more water than none but not so much as to be entirely wrongheaded, and takes a lot less electricity than refrigerated air. Especially when it doesn't work because the belt's broken, or the pump's given out, or...you get the picture.
A local bluegrass band called the Duke City* Swampcoolers has a CD titled Drained and Unplugged, which is a little play on words because at the end of summer and before the first frost, swamp coolers have to be...drained and unplugged. The CD has a cut called "Swampcooler Breakdown," which is another little play on words because not only is a breakdown an uptempo instrumental number in bluegrass, but also swamp coolers tend to...break down. When the Swampcoolers travel to non-western states, people ask them if a swamp cooler is some kind of a mixed drink. You see just what an endless source of good humor the swamp cooler can be. At least, on the love days of the love-hate relationship.
All to say, what with monsoon season being upon us and all, the air is pretty humid these days.
In fact, it's humid enough (sometimes 50%! or even more!) that the swamp cooler isn't working very well. Which is fine, really. I find that I don't particularly want it this time of year. The weather is still hot but not miserable. By afternoon clouds have moved in and hidden the sun, and the wind has picked up. It's nice to open windows and let the breeze and the drone of cicadas in, and sometimes the smell of rain.
Of course, monsoon season in New Mexico doesn't mean "all day rain" or anything. It's the desert version of the monsoon, and not anything to be all that impressed by (unless you live in the desert).
It mostly means clouds and thunder in the afternoon, with isolated showers every few days. Those showers make you work hard. With all the windows open, the start of a rainstorm means a mad dash inside the house to close the ones on the rainy side, then a sprint up the stairs to close the ones there, and then a lot of mopping up of water on windowsills. A few minutes later the rain stops, so you quickly run through the whole house, upstairs and down, opening windows again. Another shower breezes through: another mad dash to close the downstairs windows, another sprint upstairs to do the same, another mopping upstairs and down. Just as you get everything set, the rain changes direction mid-storm. Mad dashing, stair sprinting, window closing, window opening, mopping. It's all very good for you, in a breathless sort of way. A pity that I'm more of a dawdler than a dasher at heart, but there you are. Like all good things, rain takes effort. I'm certainly not complaining. And for all that our rainstorms are hit or miss and stop and start and a lot of work for not much in the way of measurable rewards—
They're still more reliable than a swamp cooler.
* The city of Albuquerque was named for the Spanish Duke of Alburquerque**, and one of its nicknames is Duke City.
** The city of Albuquerque used to be spelled Alburquerque, just like the Duke, but an "r" was removed so that the spelling would be easier, or so says urban legend. Because the r's are definitely the tricky part.***
*** Other theories about the r float around from time to time. One involves prunes.