Another Day in the Country
It must be humidity
© Another Day in the Country
Whenever I’m in California and I suggest to my son-in-law that he come visit Ramona he usually says, “But what about all that humidity?”
“I don’t notice all that much humidity in Kansas,” I tell him. “Where I notice humidity is in California, in the winter — I freeze.”
He dips his head with a sly smile. He knows how he hates turning the heat above 60 degrees in the winter. He sees no need for it; but I turn it up anyway.
Today, in Kansas, I noticed the humidity! I walked down to the post office to mail a letter. Then I remembered that I also needed stamps, so I put on my mask, like a thoughtful patron, and went inside. On the walk back home I realized I still had the mask on, so I took it off, grateful for fresh air.
With that first breath of air, I could feel the condensation of humidity over my nose, across my face where the mask had been. My nose was damp.
“It’s the humidity,” I chuckled to myself. I’d felt it!
Aunt Gertie used to mention the humidity. It was her reason for not tackling the organization of her shed full of “things and stuff.”
“I’ll do it in the fall,” she’d reason, “I can really get things done when there isn’t so much humidity.”
I normally don’t notice humidity unless it’s threatening to rain, or maybe we’re just wishing for rain on a hot summer afternoon.
Then I notice the cloying heat outdoors, noticing that the humidity may even be at 100% along with the temperature of the same number when I look up the weather forecast on my iphone.
Before the advent of air conditioning, and I do remember well when we didn’t have such a thing — anywhere — Mom would dip dish towels in water and hang them in front of the window to encourage any whiff of wind to be cooler from the condensation. We’d tie a wet kerchief around our brow to cool our skin.
We’d hunt for shade as diligently as some folk hunt for rare mushrooms in the spring.
Humidity seems to change things. My mother would say, “My knees are feeling creaky — it must be the change in the weather, the humidity.”
I notice it’s harder to breathe when it’s humid — maybe that’s because I tend toward asthma. The silverware drawer seems to get stuck. The closet door refuses to latch right. Everything swells when the humidity is high —even our bodies seem to expand.
Some people’s hair gets curlier when it’s humid. My straight hair is happier, keeping the shape I brushed it into easier, even after being slept upon, when there’s more humidity in the air.
Scent travels a wider range when it’s humid. Rick was mowing the ditches the other day in town and the scent of wild garlic that grows in the bottom of the ditch banks of Ramona was ripe in the air. You could smell it for blocks! I got hungry and went inside to cook something.
The Locust trees are in bloom and the humidity carries their sweet scent up and down the streets, calling for your attention while blanking out the sight of wrecked houses and the piles of rubbish gathering in neglected quarters for a brief while.
Too much humidity is bad, but some of it is a good thing, even though I swear it influenced the cookies I made yesterday.
They are usually crisp and crunchy, these sunflower seed oatmeal gems. And yesterday’s batch are chewier, dense, as if I was being chintzy with the butter.
“It’s the humidity,” I mumble and shrug on to doing something else.
If the humidity gets too bad we can always retreat indoors, get a dehumidifier, crank up the air conditioner, watch National Geographic programs about the Sahara Desert, and take a cold shower.
The chickens, of course, have none of the above available to them. The Topknots suffer the most when everything is damp and rainy. Dixie and Trixie who are thriving in their new digs with the last of the Royals are laying their little pearly white eggs regularly. Even the King’s favorite has followed suit.
The chicken house roof leaks when the rain is heavy and so the Topknots end up looking a little bedraggled, their top feathers damp and dingy looking like long-haired teenagers in need of a trim.
But the sun will come out and their feathers will dry out and they’ll look all perky again. The humidity will go back down, the bread bake right, the cookies turn out crispy, our energy will return and we’ll get things done, on another day in the country.