It’s hot. Here in central Indiana, it’s really hot. The actual air temperature at 6:00 PM was 96 degrees. It’s also so dry here that even the usual summer humidity can’t build up, so there wasn’t a heat index today. Small blessings, I guess.
Most of the time, the heat doesn’t bother me because about 6:00 AM, I bring the doggies into the house, put them in their crates in the basement, crank up the fans for them, shut the lights off and they snooze the day away in a climate controlled, dark basement and I find all kinds of things to do in the house. Unfortunately, our central air unit gave up the ghost on Sunday and it will be at least a week before the parts needed to fix it will be in, so the fur kids have lost their fans. They’re still in the basement during the day because it is cooler (85 degrees instead of almost 100), but they’re without the fans. And, we’re old schooling it—windows wide open, fans pulling in the cool night air or reversed to pull the heat out of the house during the day.
It’s very interesting the memories that the sound of a fan blowing in a window has evoked…most of the memories good ones. When I was a kid, my brothers and I had bedrooms on the second floor of our house. I had the good room—totally shaded all day by a huge old elm tree. At night, we all had our fans running because to install central air in that old house would have cost a fortune my parents just didn’t have. Mom and Dad had a window unit air conditioner in their bedroom and looking back, I don’t really recall a night when it was too hot to sleep or that any of us three kids asked to sleep in the air conditioning. Most nights, because of that window unit, Mom and Dad couldn’t hear me and my brothers giggling and talking until all hours of the night, planning the next great adventure we would undertake in the morning. During my childhood, our suburban life was nestled into a part of an old forest. We caught tadpoles, and later frogs and toads, waded in ponds, played in mud, built a tree house and fort, made bike paths through the trees…things I wouldn’t dream of letting a kid do now in that neighborhood, even if the trees were still standing.
Later, during my first marriage, I lived in a small town in Wisconsin called Palmyra. The house we rented had a covered, screened-in back porch. That house was so brutally hot during the summer because of its design. There wasn’t a single window lined up with another to provide a cross breeze, no matter how many fans we had. I remember writing—on a Brother typewriter—one of my first complete manuscripts on that screened-in porch. I wrote in relative comfort on that porch because I had two big fans out there providing incredible cross ventilation—no matter how hot it was. I had a table out there, a couple of chairs, and when it got too unbearable in the house, I moved the two kids out there to sleep at night—or at least until the house cooled off about one or two in the morning. Even at two years old and the other at fourteen months, they both thought it was a grand adventure to sleep out on the porch where Mommy wrote. There was a window unit in the “master” bedroom, but I couldn’t tell you how well it worked because I tried not to spend too much time in that room. (There were a lot of reasons why we’re exes…)
It’s the drone of the fans now that bring to mind those hours spent on that screened in porch, writing until the very small hours of the night. Over the hypnotic whirling of the blades, I could always hear the crickets in the grass, and the buzzing of the June bugs, the chirping and peeping of the tree frogs, as well as the distant barking and yapping of coyotes (and one of these days, I’m going to blog about what a survivalist and adaptive genius the coyote is). It was on that porch that I first realized I could write a whole novel. It was on that porch I learned to listen to the voices in my head and that hearing those voices didn’t make me any crazier than the next person. It was there that I began to develop my own voice.
I’m sitting at keyboard, instead of a typewriter and once more, I’m listening to the drone of the fan blades. And, I’m finding that I kind of like that sound again, because even though not all of the memories that sound brings to the surface are good memories, they are memories of times that shaped who I am and gave birth to my creative voice.
Now, if only the parts for the central air conditioning unit would come in sooner…