Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cool off down south

It is a record 108 degrees in Newark and 104 in New York City, but the temperature in New Orleans this morning is a balmy 84. I don't know how to account for this, but I'm not pressing my luck. I'm just truly grateful.

When I read Mayor Daley had been altering building construction in Chicago to allow for climate change that would raise that city's annual temperatures up to those of the Gulf states, I could only wonder what that might mean for New Orleans. So far, however, our summer weather is pretty much the way it's always been - (90/90) hot and humid. I remember having a conversation several years ago with a former New Orleans resident who described it as "ax murderer" weather. The heat does try your patience. But that's why we take it slower during the summer months.

Photo credit: Times-Picayune
For a few weeks this season, it stopped raining. Now, that was scary. Blistering sunshine and no rain. A friend called New Orleans a "humid desert."

Thirty years ago, it rained like clockwork for about 15 minutes every afternoon. If you were outside when the skies opened up, you'd be drenched because it would be a real downpour. Not a problem if you dressed right.  All my clothes were cotton and I wore only Dr. Scholl's wooden sandals. Leather shoes would soon rot. Hair in a ponytail or stuffed in a hat. Long lines at the snowball shops.

Thank God, we've had a couple of really good rains. The West Bank got six inches in a few hours and had to practically shut down. I was able to stay home and enjoy listening to the sound. The next day, the the Audubon pool was delightfully cool to swim laps and everyone seemed more relaxed.

In the past couple of weeks, I've even left the doors ajar at night. Shotgun houses have cross-ventilation to allow the breeze to pass through. Mojo has been transfixed, gazing out the screen door and listening to the cicadas. She escaped one evening and had a marvelous romp with her feral friend, Linx. Rolling in the thick grass. nibbling on flowers and knocking over a flower pot. Mojo would duck under the iron fence every time I tried to grab her, so I just let her have fun. She's got on flea medication - a must. At 3 a.m., I opened the front door to find her ready to come home. She slept the entire next day, exhausted.
My neighbor, Anthony, taking a breather

When the temperature drops below 85, everyone sits on their front porch to take it all in. We have porches and screen doors, just like in the 1950s, and we use them. It's sociable because you see everyone passing by - walking their dogs, riding their bicycles or just strolling around the neighborhood, taking a look around.

It's not like New York or Chicago where, if you sit on a restaurant patio, you always have to smell the nasty city air. Here, we've got lots of flowering trees and shrubs so there's always a pleasant scent to inhale.

Last week, when the air was just warm, I took a nice walk to the mailbox about a half-mile away. I passed a beautiful old home with a small front yard. Three little kids were giggling, playing in the sprinkler. Boy, does that bring back memories. Mom sat on the front porch, keeping an eye on them.

Their games did not require high technology.

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