Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sweating Through Summer, too Stubborn for A/C

This spring was a long and cool one, with a lot of those typically non-typical Nebraskan mood swings blowing in off the Rockies, forcing us to bundle up one day and pull out the swim suit the next.  Summer, however, has finally arrived!  I was reminded of this on my commute to work on Monday in 100 degree weather when I think I nearly heat stroked.  Note to self; bring water bottle!

Spoiled by the chilly spring, we are on to the next task we resolved to undertake; we are aspiring to be an a/c free household.  This challenge originated from a debate during a drive through the snow caps of the Rockies on a snowboarding trip, and resulted with a bet that I could hold out longer than Brenton with no air conditioning for the summer.  It is easy to concoct such schemes when it is 10 degrees out, but we were both a little apprehensive of the first 100 degree day looming ahead.

Surprisingly, Monday came and went without much notice of the heat at home.  The only time I was really aware of how hot 100 degrees is, was while riding my bike on the black top of a paved road and when stepping into the awkward and disconcerting feeling of an air conditioned building, which turns the dampness of the back of my neck into an instant chill that runs down my spine and makes my flushed face seem strikingly out of place.  Brenton had a similarly strange reaction to being in an unnaturally cool room, having acclimated to the heat of a Nebraska summer. I'm not sure who wins the bet if neither of us gives in, which seems likely since we haven't really been bothered by the heat so far.  In fact, we are actually enjoying discovering how the human body is designed to deal with extreme temperatures.

When I was in Belize this winter sweating along a gravel road with a rice field on one side and the jungle to the other, my professor and I were conversing about modern day amenities that the citizens of Blue Creek Village, Belize do without that most Americans could not imagine parting with.  Dr. Bricker told me that human bodies are not meant to be constantly comfortable, that we are meant to be cold or hungry from time to time.  

As endothermic animals, human bodies have the ability to self-regulate their own temperature without having to regulate behaviorally, such as a snake sunning itself on a rock in the morning.  I believe that I can actually feel my body self-regulating as I sweat through these hot days.  My moist skin is sensitive to any slight breeze and before I know it, I feel as if the a/c has been turned on and I am comfortable again.  

So we have been embracing the sweat and letting it do its job, but embracing perspiration makes embracing each other just a little bit less pleasant, and our hippy deodorant wasn't cutting it!  We had been using a mineral rock type deodorant.  It still came in plastic packaging but lasts drastically longer than a regular stick of deodorant because it is literally a rock that you wet and then rub in your pits, (which feels cold and bizarre).  It is supposed to kill odor causing bacteria, but I don't feel that it was doing the job adequately so we switched back to the typical style of deodorant stick.  Although this "Queene Helene Mint Julep" deodorant is still aluminum and paraben free, I neglected to check the container for recycle-ability before I bought it.  Oops. 

In an attempt to keep our house reasonably cool, we are keeping all of the windows open to allow air circulation, but keeping the blinds shut during the day to keep the sunlight from turning our abode into a greenhouse.  It feels pretty livable in the mornings, but drives us outside during the day, (which would probably happen anyways), and warms up as the day progresses.  By the evening, it is hotter inside than out.  As a light and finicky sleeper, I was dreading the prospect of tossing and turning all night long while laying on top of sweat soaked sheets, but I have been shockingly comfortable and have slept well even on the hotter nights.  I think I sweat more in the winter when I sleep with a thick comforter than I have been lately with the cool breeze from the window breathing across my bedroom, a ceiling fan, and an oscillating fan that creates a comforting hum throughout the evening.  I think that this hum, along with the sounds of diverse insects conversing in their native tongues and the occasional car that rushes passed with a climatic gasp and then hushes itself with a sigh, remind me of the simplicity of just laying still, listening, and breathing.              


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