• Last modified 654 days ago (Sept. 5, 2019)


ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: A Climate-Controlled Environment

© Another Day in the Country

I think for a decade or so we had some pretty lofty ideas about climate-controlled buildings, acting like know-it-alls who didn’t need Mother Nature. We could seal a building so that whatever you wanted, hot or cold, it could be had at the movement of a dial. That didn’t work all that well.

What it took to enlighten our attempts at playing God with the elements was that a whole slew of people got sick and died from a virus born through  the enclosed ventilation system of an enclosed building, and someone finally figured out, “We need fresh air.”

Can you imagine that we were so silly as to build school buildings without windows that opened for fresh air? I ended up teaching in one of those rooms and sometimes it smelled noxious. No amount of air fresheners could do the trick. After all, we had fifth graders whose bodies had begun to percolate toward puberty and they can put off some pretty pesky odors. We needed fresh air and not Febreze — which is my grandson’s cure for anything that makes your nose twitch.

The school corrected their error and put in an actual window that opened. As I recall it was designated an “escape route” just in case …  Whatever you call it, fresh air is wonderful! During the hottest spells of summer, though, I keep pretty close to a climate-controlled environment.

When my mother came back to Kansas after having spent her childhood growing up west of Ramona, she was apprehensive.

“It’s going to be so HOT,” Mom said, “I remember what it was like when we could hardly breathe for the heat … and the humidity.”

She’d been living for years in Oregon with its misty mornings and summer days that ranged in the 80s.

We assured her that it wasn’t quite as hot as it used to be, and that we had air conditioners in the house. She remembered hanging wet tea towels over the window in the bedroom to cool any errant breeze a bit.

“Now, Mom, we have climate control,” I laughed. “You can stay in the house all day and be comfy.”

She was skeptical.

I put my baby chicks that came in the mail in the bathtub, again, so things could be “climate controlled.” It wasn’t like they needed more heat but it was just easier, temporarily. They were also easier to watch in there, especially at first — that was my excuse.  Even then, in an air-conditioned house, I had to rig up a heat lamp for them.

We sat at the edge of the tub, my 12-year-old grandson and I, just marveling at these tiny creatures, sent to us through the mail just hours after they’d hatched, arriving safe and sound and us giving them their first drink of water and offering their first food and them knowing just what to do.

In the country, Kansas country, we experience, first hand and constantly, the cycles of life. Things — animals and people — are born, live, and die. We plant and harvest. We constantly adjust to the elements of rain and sunshine, cold and hot.  Maybe some of the farmers would like for our environment to be more “climate controlled” where, like in California, you have sunshine all summer long without question and for water, you irrigate. But, in Kansas, we have clouds one day and sun the next, rain that is prayed for one day and then even though it’s prayed for, nothing comes for weeks on end, and then we have rain, rain, rain, and it floods. Even though we prepare for the worst, building dams, dikes, and reservoirs, we’re always expecting the unexpected, wondering what happens next.  That’s life, especially in the country!

Dagfinnr kept counting our chicks in the tub and coming up short.

“How could this be?” I asked. 

And then I discovered the missing chick. It’s a terrible story. I wondered if I’d even admit to my grandson what I’d found; but in the end I decided to tell him — it’s life! Win some, lose some. We make mistakes.

When I went to put an old water fount in the bathtub for the new baby chicks, I put a dinner plate under it because I feared the fount had a leak — I needed to get a new one. And when I leaned over — it was heavy — to set it all down in the tub, little chicks went scurrying everywhere and as  I maneuvered them out of the way, evidently one didn’t move unbeknownst to me. The next day when I replaced the water container with a new one, there was one squashed baby chick underneath the water fount. Oh, I felt terrible.

“I knew I should have helped you, Baba,” said my understanding grandchild, referring to the fact that my hearing isn’t as good as it once was.  “If I would have put it down, I probably would have heard that chick peeping!”  Maybe. Maybe not. That’s how things happen on another day in the country.

Last modified Sept. 5, 2019