Today’s necessities yesterday’s luxuries

By Lynn Moncus: Local columnist

Through the years, we have visited much about the extremes in temperature and the luxuries we now consider to be necessities.

We have often agreed the summer heat and the winter cold cause a little too much tension and we would prefer to remain less than 100 degrees and more than zero during the various seasons. Of course, 75 degrees seems like a nice number, but we are aware we need a little more variety in order to be able to distinguish between those seasons.

During the hours without electricity on Tuesday, I just naturally returned to the past, at which time we didn’t have to worry about such outages because we didn’t have electricity.

That meant we didn’t have any air-conditioning, lights or refrigeration unless we had a wind charger, a coal oil refrigerator, or later a propane refrigerator and stove.

Of course, in those canyons of home, we didn’t have to worry about indoor plumbing either and just lived a relatively quiet existence, no matter what the season.

I was recalling some of those hot summer days spent with Dad as we worked cattle and talked a little about the heat but didn’t really suffer ill effects unless we forgot to drink some water or just roped and threw too many calves without taking a little time to rest in the shade of a cedar tree or along the edge of the bluff where we could always find a bit of a breeze.

We always looked forward to approaching a windmill or a spring because we would take time to get a drink of cool water from the community cup hanging by the well or perched on a little ledge of rock above the spring.

Dad would remove his hat, dip his hand into some of that water, and splash it across the back of his neck and top of his head.

If I happened to be wearing a straw hat, I’d dip it into the tank to soak for a minute, empty it, and then let it act as a natural air-conditioner.

Often, each of us poured a cup of water into each boot in order to cool our feet and to feel a modicum of comfort for a short time until our feet and heads dried out again.

Mother was the one who had to endure more heat than we because she always cooked three meals a day over that wood-burning range in the kitchen. It heated the whole house in the summer and only the kitchen in the winter.

When she did the summer canning, she really had a lot of heat surrounding her, but she rarely said more than the day was a little warm.

Once we moved into Grandmother’s house, we could all go to the spring, which was just a short walk from the house, and find a cool place in which to avoid the hottest part of the day. That was always a shady spot and seemed to have a cool breeze rising off the storage tank. It was also the only place we could use in lieu of refrigeration.

We would place the day’s milk there and also keep any extra butter and cottage cheese in the little pond beside the main spring. At least the milk was cool and wouldn’t sour too fast for us to use most of it before setting the remainder aside for cheese and butter.

That little pond was also a dandy place in which to cool a watermelon when such a delicacy was available. We’d cut it nearby and enjoy its contents as we stood in the shade.

Because we didn’t really know what we were missing, we didn’t seem to suffer much during the summer without air-conditioning in our home or in any of our vehicles. In fact, this woman from lma was almost always some kind of problem to be faced by my parents.

When we would go into an air-conditioned home when I was very young, I would have a nose bleed immediately and have to search for a warm place while the others were enjoying the cool drafts. Later, I would take a cold each time I rode in an air-conditioned vehicle. We just let that problem go as others didn’t need to be deprived of a comfortable ride, and I would eventually recover from the cold.

Now, we consider the luxuries of the past to be the necessities of the present because we have become too soft to be able to tolerate the major extremes in temperature. I don’t know about you, but I am really enjoying this air-conditioned room and am looking forward to a trip in an air-conditioned car to find a cup of coffee somewhere.

Let’s hope we don’t have many more outages this year.