or Taking the Heat
The moral is, never say anything negative about swamp coolers in the vicinity of your own. When I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the way they go on the fritz, I should have known that mine would get ideas. You know how unreliable they are.
Even though I hadn't been using the swamp cooler much recently, just a little bit now and then to take the edge off a hot afternoon, it's been an intermediary at need. Now summer is happening entirely at first hand, the way it has for most of my life. I was grateful for climate control when I moved here from Vermont, as it took me several years to adjust to southwestern heat. I'm still incredibly grateful for it when the temperature tops 95F (35C), my Personal Wilting Point. I'm not into virtuous suffering; asceticism has never been my cup of tea. If the weather were still blistering hot, some handyperson would be out here fixing the swamp cooler. But it isn't—it's just ordinary hot, summery hot.
When comfort is the flick of a button away, you make yourself comfortable. (At least, I do.) When summer heat is sprawled out lazily in front of you until sunset, though, you find ways around it. You "tune" the windows to maximize a draft, you take a cool after-work shower. You start fixing cold dinners with lemon and fresh herbs, and put the drinking glasses in the freezer, so they frost over when they're filled. You remember that watermelon is no ordinary fruit but ambrosia and savor each cold, liquid bite as the juice trickles down your throat. When comfort is easy, you forget that the ordinary discomforts of summer—and the end runs you make around them—create its best memories.
With windows closed and the cooler running, all the details of summer get air-brushed away. But when you feel every change in the breeze and hear every rise and fall in the cicadas' droning song, when you see the changing face of the sky from one moment to the next, summer days grow long again, long like they were in childhood. That's what's surprised me most without the "safety net" of the swamp cooler. The days are just so long.
Virtuous suffering? No.
This feels more like hedonism.