Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Indian Summer

Summer is winding down. We have exactly four weeks from today until the Autumnal Equinox, the first day of fall. But here in Albuquerque temperatures are down nearly fifteen degrees from their summer high. My home weather station reports a high this summer of 98 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius if you are interested). I was surprised to see that we never quite hit 100. The truth is, most years we don’t; it just seems as if we do.

What seemed to make this summer especially unbearable was the higher than usual humidity. We have a swamp cooler (also known as an evaporative cooler). It’s the only means of cooling our house. This is a wonderful way to bring summer comfort to your home, but it relies on dry air. You often hear folks say that the desert is hot, but that it’s a dry heat. If you’re not familiar with this, then you probably don’t realize just how significant a difference the dryness makes.

We had lots of pregnant skies the past two months. But we had little rain. This made for heavy humidity without the relief of the cooling rains. The swamp cooler just blows warm air when the humidity is up. We added fans (which have motors that, while running, add to the heat in the house) to move more air, but it’s all hot humid air. This was an especially humid summer.

Only it wasn’t. My weather station recorded an average relative humidity of 53 percent for July and August for the past three years. This year’s July and August average was 42 percent relative humidity.

So much for perception. I just realized that I have been comfortable all summer, but I wasn’t aware just how comfortable I was. That makes me feel so much better.

Next Tuesday is the first of September. The month generally promises an Indian Summer with its pleasurable breezes and insipient autumnal light. The summer rains (such as they have been) should soon disappear. The evenings will find dusk earlier, the crab apples will drop from our crab apple tree and litter our lawn, making it smell like wine.

Bonnie wants to get rid of the eyesore that is our front yard. Our neighbors to the east just had their lawn extracted and replaced with gravel. It was done tastefully, and the maintenance required will be minimal. Still, it’s not exactly my idea of what we ought to do. To Bonnie’s everlasting credit, it isn’t what she has in mind either. Together we have come up with a basic plan and design which includes leaving about half of our lawn intact, adding some stone paths, various planters and, yes, some gravel. Some of the lawn at the eastern extreme is already dying (Bonnie thinks our neighbor’s landscaper damaged our irrigation system). No matter; this will be removed as part of the master plan she and I are cooking up.

The fall is an excellent time to work on the front yard. We’ll hire a couple of guys to do the hard digging and removal, but Bonnie and I will be spending several weeks this fall on our hands and knees making our front yard beautiful.

Just in time for winter.

No comments:

Post a Comment