When I was little, we usually had one of those 20 inch deep wading pools, or, in more desperate times, just a sprinkler. We played a lot in the sprinkler, which was never used for the silly purpose of watering grass. It was our pseudo-beach-swimming-pool-oasis. We had great fun with it. For super fun, a sprinkler/wading pool combination was a treat. In summers when we could afford the fee, we might also get a pass to state parks, where we could swim in the local lake. But, park passes weren't always in the budget either.
This summer, my mother installed an above-ground swimming pool. As a life-long camper and once-upon-a-time lifeguard, I love swimming. I love the pool. And with the heat wave this week, and my hot swampy-smelling parsonage, I've been spending a lot of evenings in Rome (to Mom's delight of course.) It has been so warm this week that the pool water, without solar cover help, has been 85 or 86 degrees some days. It is actually almost too warm, we complain. Like bath water. You know you can't really claim your lower-middle-class status anymore when your pool water is too warm for you.
Last month Peter Sawtell, executive director of Eco-Justice Ministries, wrote his "Eco-Justice Notes" about air-conditioning, and the column has stuck with me. He talked about how amazed people are that his office isn't air-conditioned. He talked about hundreds who've died in heat waves. He talked about whether we can tolerate the inconvenience of being a bit too warm or a bit too cold.
Recently, I've asked our church trustees to look into an air-conditioner for the parsonage. These days, going for $80 or so, I'd pick up one myself, but of course the parsonage has those crank-out windows, and needs a special air-conditioner. But this summer, my fourth in the parsonage, the heat seems unbearable, even with sometimes three (three!) fans on in the room, and windows open. The thermostat read "91" in my bedroom several days this week. Ugh. I just can't do it.
I've never had air-conditioning before, except in my car (and it is currently not working). We never had them growing up. But now, we have two in my mom's house. One of my brothers has central air. Another brother has one in his dorm. Is it so much hotter? Or are we just so much more used to having complete comfort at all times? I suspect the answer is somewhat of "yes" to both. So an air-conditioner will be a guilty purchase. So many don't even have the access to fans that I do, or the park pass that I now get every year, or even the sprinkler and wading pool. But I fear soon air-conditioners will be as necessary as heaters are in Central New York weather.
Well, off to the pool...