Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Domestic Shift To Summer

It's late spring, the weather is warming, and it is time for timeless rituals of the season to unfold at this household.

Screens, taken off last fall to allow more sunlight in through the windows, follow traditional (two year old) migration routes up from the basement. The last of the cured firewood is burned in the wood stove on still cool mornings. And the cold water that at least one of us uses to handwash dishes--on the premise that water that isn't hot enough to kill germs only makes them stronger--feels more pleasant. The hot water heater gets turned down a notch, so that it's just hot enough to deliver a comfortable shower without any dilution from the cold water tap. Showering styles remain stubbornly diverse, from lengthy dousings, passionately defended by the resident teenager, to the navy approach of turning the water off during scrub downs.

The house cruises through late spring without the aid of furnace or A/C, sustained through cool nights by a reservoir of heat absorbed during the day. Its ballast of cool air in the basement keeps it steady through brief hot spells. Trimming shades and windows is all we need to do to keep this ship on a steady course of comfort. We'll reach the tropics of summer before long, but for now it's possible to make comfortable headway across the seas of time without the help of machines.