Living the last few days in my ‘cool cave’, my mind wanders back to my childhood. Those days where sitting in the sun was safe and fun. Splashing in the community pool without sunscreen was the norm. And there was NO air conditioning.
Yes, I got really sunburned. And yes, as a descendent of Ireland, my skin is not just fair, easily sunburned but also high on the list of skin cancer risk groups. And yes, I’ve had melanoma and I’m luckily now, cancer free.
How did we survive the heat?
Sitting in my air conditioned cave, I wonder how we all survived the summer heat and humidity in the Midwest. It was hot, yes. But it was also heavy with moisture that weighed you down like a heavy, hot blanket. I remember hating it.
But I also remember going to the library, not air conditioned at all, but dark and cool and filled with rows and rows of books. I was a regular. Checking out stacks of books at a time. One summer I read through all books in the women in history section. Of course, I read through all the Nancy Drew I didn’t own and other classics like Little Women, House on the Prairie, Huckleberry Finn, Heidi and more.
At home with a borrowed book, I headed next door where my two friends were already sitting on the covered patio quietly turning pages. One summer, a box arrived from my grandmother’s house filled with paperback gothic novels. I voraciously read them all. As we sat and sipped Kool-aide, feet propped on the brick walled patio reading the hot days away.
Forward into the past.
I do miss swimming and splashing in the sunshine sometimes. I loved the water. But not the sunburns that came later. As a melanoma survivor, I don’t go out into the sun now unless I really have to and then only layered in sunscreen. I’m so grateful for the technology we now have that can protect us from the sun.
With temperatures soaring into the hundreds, I’m regressing into my childhood comfort zone. I’m sitting with my feet propped, a cool drink and a stack of digital books. I’m in the house, out of the sun, heat and humidity. Safe from cancerous rays, reading the hot days away.
And remembering those hot summer days quietly reading the day away fondly but now very glad for my air conditioned cool cave.