Saturday, December 23, 2006
Pogonip, on a rainy December afternoon
327 is a house made for the summer. In the warm months, the house's ample eaves protect us from the sun and we can throw open the doors for air. The willow provides shade to the front. The house is always as cool as a dark cave on a hot day, despite the lack on air conditioning.
The summer of '59, when the house was built, must have been balmy. Maybe they even had an Indian summer, when the hot days knock on the door of December. Those construction workers rose at the crack of dawn to get some surfing in before they started their day. They perched in the fresh wood skeleton, with their shirts off, drinking beer and listening to Elvis, enjoying the feeling of sun on their tummies. Maybe they were from New England, and the thought that bone-numbing arctic winds could freeze this dulcet Cali valley was incapable of entering their sun-stroked imaginations.
During the winter, the house is out of her element. The engineers put the token heat registers next to the ceiling. They must have forgotten that hot air rises. None of the exterior doors actually fill the jamb. If I squat down, I can see the feet of my visitor through the gap. The windows are old and drafty. One doesn't even shut all the way. As soon as the antiquated furnace stops, the temperature plunges. I hate turning it on, because I can see a little string of imaginary dollar bills jumping out of my wallet, to destroy themselves in the fiery maw, like lemmings. I count my toes, to make sure I haven't lost any to frostbite.
This season will pass. The days are getting longer. Its therapeutic to think about those sanguine construction workers, sitting in the eaves, on an endless summer's day, in 1959, eating bologna and velveeta sandwiches, and know that the sun will return. In the meantime, I can drink a lot of tea, snuggle with my sub-zero sleeping bag, and soak in the tub. Soon it will be too hot for long pants, my skin will complain about being exposed to light, and I'll whine about being sweaty. The house will always be cool.