Friday, July 24, 2015

Is Air Conditioning to Blame?

My husband has this theory: air conditioning is to blame for some of our problems, namely obesity, isolation and depression. 

I agree with him. I know that air conditioning can’t be blamed for all of the extra weight people carry, but it makes sense that, given the choice of staying in a cool place or sweating in 110° heat index, I’d choose the AC. You would find me shut up inside the house enjoying the cool air and not outside talking to the people who live next door or down the street. I “kind of” know my neighbors at home, but not well enough to ask them over for dinner or impose on them to take care of my dog for the weekend. Being overweight and alone can certainly lead to depression. 

I remember getting our first window AC unit when I was a kid. Oh, it was great, but since it was only in the den, the rest of the house was hot as hell. All kids were thrown outdoors to play. Our family and neighbors often gathered on my grandmother's porch to visit and enjoy whatever breeze might blow by. 

For the past two months, I have lived with no air conditioning; however, I have been in the cool mountains near Newland, North Carolina, where AC isn’t a necessity. The hottest day here was 82°. Most nights it dips into the low 60s. No one stays inside when such agreeable weather, lush foliage and beautiful mountains beckon you to come outdoors. I have met many of my neighbors because we are easily accessible outside. It’s a snap to strike up a conversation with someone while walking the dog or riding around in the golf cart. Granted, most of the neighbors are retired and have more time to get outside, but the weather makes it easier for everyone.

I’ve also found it easy to get to know the small community and the people in it. We have an RV lot and cabin in a resort, so there’s always something to do. We go to bingo games, the dog park and on hikes around the lake. I have also become involved with a local Presbyterian church. Attendance on Sunday during the summer probably averages 125 people, so it’s easy to learn names. I have helped at VBS this week which is normally something I dread doing; however, this time there were only 9 children attending. The pastor taught the lesson and several adults helped with crafts and dinner. It was the best VBS ever.

Another great activity that I found is through the local home extension office. My granddaughter, Cloee, is 10 and was becoming bored, so I enrolled her in a summer camp offered by the local 4-H club which is part of the home extension program. Twice a week she goes on trips to various museums, plays, and water parks. She’s made friends with some local children so next summer she won’t feel so alone.

Cloee and I have also gotten library cards at the county library. It’s about the size of the library at the high schools where I taught, and everyone is extremely helpful searching for reading material.

One of the reading areas in the Avery County Public Library in Newland, North Carolina

Unfortunately, I even got to know the local hospital when my husband was admitted for two short stays. The almost-new hospital itself is really nice as are the employees. What impressed me also is the actual building. This 25-bed hospital is set to capture the view of the local mountains. In the surgical waiting room, there is a piano that various people volunteer to play for a few hours each day. The sound of the piano echoes though much of the hospital for everyone to enjoy. This hospital is very different from the gigantic one at home.

The view of Grandfather Mountain from a first floor room  at Cannon Memorial Hospital in Newland, North Carolina

The piano located in the surgical waiting room of Cannon Memorial Hospital in Newland, North Carolina

Honestly, I never thought I’d have the opportunity to spend an entire summer somewhere other than home, so I’m really grateful to have this place. I love being in this small community and getting to know the places and more importantly, the people.

Being without air conditioning in the mountains of North Carolina isn’t a hardship when you can get outside and enjoy the land and the people. This summer has been fun because I have been able to make new friends and have new experiences.

Oh, and just because I spent all that time without AC and outdoors, don’t think I have lost any weight. I took advantage of my short time of residence and did a lot of sitting, reading and visiting. I can say that I’m not isolated or depressed, so I guess I’ve proved that part of my husband’s theory about air conditioning is right!