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Apr. 21st, 2011

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The local stores are full of chicks and bunnies and tender young flowers in soft pastels, because Easter is right around the corner and we should all be welcoming spring!

Outside, though, it's hitting 90 degrees in the afternoons. It's still cool at night, but the days are decidedly not springlike. They are, in fact, drifting toward summerlike (although here, summer means 95 degrees and up from midmorning on, and night temps that only drop into the 80s). It feels like we've bypassed the whole pastel-Spring-dream thing entirely, which isn't helped by Easter's being so late this year.

And yet... despite the summery tendencies, we still haven't turned on the air conditioner. We usually turn off the air and throw open the windows in the spring anyway. This year, I've resolved to keep the windows open and the air off for as long as possible.

The funny thing is... I kind of like it. And I grew up with A/C. I couldn't imagine living in Florida without it. (My husband, who grew up even farther south in Florida without the benefits of air conditioning, can imagine it but prefers not to live it again. Then again, he dreams of moving to upstate New York for the winters.)

But when the windows are open, you can hear what's going on in the neighborhood -- you know when the mail's here, you know when the school buses pick up and drop off kids. Stepping outside isn't such a shock to the system -- in fact, going into air-conditioned buildings is weirder and feels colder. I feel like I'm taking part in the seasonal change, instead of hiding from it.

It helps that I've lost some weight over the past year, so I'm not as thoroughly insulated as I was. It also helps that, for the most part, we do as others in hot countries do: get the active things done in the morning, spend the afternoon doing more quiet things. In fact, the hottest part of my day is generally cooking dinner, because when you rev up the stove or oven, it heats more than just your food.

We've invested in a few more fans (we have paddle fans in all the bedrooms and in the sunroom, but my office space, the kitchen, and the dining area are sadly fan-free) and with the air moving about the house, it feels -- temperate. Warm, yes, but not unduly so. When the sun sets, you can feel the change in the air. When rain is coming, you can smell it. I like that.

(I also like saving $150 to $200 on my electric bill each month. O yes.)

We'll see how long this lasts. I'm hoping to hold out until June.


Last night, I downloaded The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure for my Nook (Amazon BN Indiebound Powell's), and read it in two big gulps (started last night, finished today). I loved that the author, similar to me, had obsessed over Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a kid, and similar to me, she'd rediscovered them as an adult, found some things to be reassuring and other things to be troubling (hello, Osage Diminished Reserve*). Like me, she'd started nosing around the Internet for more information about what really happened.

Unlike me, McClure took her interest to its (il?)logical conclusion and started rediscovering what she calls "Laura World," first by doing some of the things Laura and her family had done (grinding wheat in a coffee mill to bake bread!) and then by going to the places Laura had lived, in search of ... well, she doesn't quite know, at the start. But she eventually gains her own answers, and a fine collection of sunbonnets. (Don't wear them on your head. Let them hang down your back, like Laura did.)

The result is both touching and funny -- part memoir, part biography, part road trip, part literary criticism, and part realization that the past -- yours and mine and McClure's and Wilder's -- is both still with us and unreachable.

(I should add, here, that I'm jealous -- my wonderful parents took me to Rocky Ridge Farm when I was a kid, on the way back from a trip to visit the Iowa relatives, and the house was CLOSED. The Rock House, at the time, was open and was a gift shop, and that's where I bought my own copy of Donald Zochert's Laura. Also, I have been (briefly) to Westville, FL, where the Wilders lived for a year, because it's right around the corner from Bonifay, where my grandfather grew up -- but I haven't actually Laura-touristed it. Someday.)

*Also, hi, Penny Linsenmayer, whose name I recognized from HP fandom!


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