“It’s too hot here. I’m ready to go home.” That’s what I said to my wife as I woke up in my half-sleepy state during the recent spate of record heat.
There was only one problem — I was home.
Like most of us born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, I feel a bit stressed and disoriented if I don’t see rain for a week or so. Or if the temperatures venture above 80 for more than a day or two.
We’ve all heard the term “fair-weather friend,” but here in the Northwest, we could call ourselves “cool-weather friends.” I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I feel better, think better and certainly sleep better in cool weather.
Yes, I know about air conditioning (and I use it in my car), but at home I don’t like the constant whirr of the machine and the clammy sensation on my skin. I don’t like the mechanical, processed feel of the air that AC gives me. And I especially don’t like needing to use a machine and electricity just to breathe.
I never would have thought of it before, but I love the (literally) free and (usually) abundant cool, fresh air of the Pacific Northwest.
Several years ago some of my wife’s relatives from Texas were visiting us over the Fourth of July. As we were heading out the door to watch the fireworks, I asked if they wanted to borrow a jacket or sweater since I knew they were not accustomed to our cool summer evenings.
“No thanks” one of them replied, “We love the weather here. It’s like air conditioning we don’t have to pay for.”
I never would have thought of it that way before. I just take fresh air for granted. In fact maybe I take all of the most important things in my life for granted: family, friends, health and even hot water.
But in an odd way, I’m glad I take these things for granted. Fresh air, like friendship, cannot be bought or sold, but it can be lost, and it does need to be protected.
Nothing is inevitable about fresh air, and nothing can take its place. And like friendship, it is rarely appreciated until it is lost.
Fresh air, friendships and family are the ultimate luxuries we almost never think about. We assume that they will always be there. There’s something wonderful (and probably naive) about that level of trust.
We somehow believe we will always have those relationships. We take as a base assumption that things will never change. But they always do.
Logically I know that cool weather will return after a hot spell, and I know that I too may curse the arrival of what seems like an eternal drizzle.
But I also know that, like many other Pacific Northwest natives (and a few transplants), when the rain comes, it will be my own personal “welcome home.”
M. (Morf) Morford is a former reader columnist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.