Adapting to the Heat is Kinda Cool!
July 11, 2014, 8:03 AM
Filed under: Adapting to Change | Tags: , , ,

This blog hasn’t been very active lately, even though I think about it a lot. (that counts doesn’t it?) It occurred to me today that part of the reason I’ve been quiet is because I’m back into that summer time groove of gardening and “puttin’ food by”. It’s such a natural and routine part of my life that I guess I considered it rather, well,  too routine and not interesting enough to write about. So, I tried to look at my daily activities through your eyes, hoping to see some ‘transitioning patterns’ or ideas that I might share with you. 

Transitioning to a way of life that involves using less fossil fuels and adapting to a warming climate can cover a lot of activities, from adapting our daily routines to the vagaries of the weather to eating cooler, lighter foods in summer than those we eat during the colder months. I’ve found that working in the heat of the day makes me pretty miserable so I’m waking earlier and earlier to beat the heat. Right after breakfast I walk to the community garden to inspect the live traps we set each night for the raccoon mama and her teenage son (or daughter) that are waiting, right along with us, for the corn to ripen. So far, we’ve only caught two smallish rats, but regardless of what live animal gets tricked into going into traps, I don’t want them to suffer, like I do, in the heat of the day, so I go early to check, and then to get my days’ gardening chores completed. I finish just as the sweat begins to drip off my chin. After a brief rest at home, I take my daily walk with the dog because I worry about her burning her paws on the asphalt or overheating in her black fur coat. Days are spent in front of the fan, snapping, slicing, dicing-and drinking sweet apple mint tea 😉

This week I’ve been…

canning beans…


drying zucchini slices…


and chopping peppers for drying…


We harvested the onions this week, so I’m taking advantage of the sun to cure them for a few days…


while cooking our supper too!


We aren’t doing any baking these days because heating the oven is simply not worth it. My west-facing kitchen windows can really allow a lot of heat in in the late afternoons, even with the shades drawn, so if I’m not using the solar cooker, I cook my evening meal before that happens, generally right after lunch. That leaves me all afternoon and evening to pursue other projects. Last night I cut down a small tree to make way for a greenhouse that’s going to be put in its’ place. Tonight I moved all the rockers and crap things off the front porch and scrubbed the accumulated road dirt and dust off the siding and floor, all while enjoying the shady side of the house in the barefoot comfort of cool hose water. Tomorrow evening I plan to attend the opening reception of a new art exhibit at a nearby downtown gallery called “Lens on the Larder: Food Ways of Appalachia”; I’m already looking forward to walking there in the cool of the evening and enjoying some local foods, photography and stories. Who says transitioning to this way of life is somehow difficult or hard? It often just requires some simple adjustments to our schedules, menus or clothing.

Before the days of central heating and air, everyone worked and slept by the rising and setting of the sun. Farmers and field workers often enjoyed their main meal, or ‘dinner’, at noon, giving them an opportunity to fully refuel after a morning’s work outside, while also offering them a respite until later in the afternoon when the sun wasn’t as high. Front porches served as the warmer-months living rooms, and summer kitchens were screened affairs where the days’ cooking, eating and canning took place. Corn was shucked and beans were broken while sitting under the shade of a tree. Folks were completely tuned in to the sun, the rain and the seasons. I’m trying to adapt to that way of life as well, and though I enjoy turning on the AC at times, I’m happiest with the windows open. Thinking back, I attended an un-air conditioned school and lived in a house without it, all while growing up in central Alabama. We didn’t suffer, it was just part of summer!

I recently covered my upstairs skylight with newspaper to prevent the sun from shining in so brightly, and it really did help with the heat buildup up there! Each evening, when the outside temperature drops to a lower point than the inside air, I turn on the window fans up there to further cool things off. We sleep on the first floor of our home, which is naturally cooler, and have gotten so used to the ‘white noise’ that the fan provides that it’s become like a sleeping pill for us. One summer while I lived in California, the state was experiencing ‘rolling brownouts’ where the electrical usage was cut during the hottest parts of the day. During those times our office ‘adapted’ by allowing us to wear shorts and sandals, changing lunch break times and doing those tasks that didn’t require electricity: filing, phone calls, and data entry on our battery operated lap tops got us through. Our own electric company is working towards a similar setup here in NE TN, where we can voluntarily sign up for ‘time of day’ usage rates, which will be lower than regular rates. It saves them power and us money, but it’s all about adapting any way you look at it.  For me, adapting to the heat just means doing my work in the cooler hours, eating meals on the porch, and napping or reading in the heat of the day. I enjoy a greater sense of resiliency by changing with the seasons and find it’s kinda cool actually!
















17 Comments so far
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Oh I swear if you weren’t 10 hours away, I’d be coming to visit you! What will you do with the coon family if you catch them, take them and release them where, far away? Now you have me interested in zucchini chips, and that brings a question. Do you put anything on them or do anything to them before you dehydrate them? And anything for extra flavoring? We have them all over the place in the summer, and now I’m curious to try the slices dehydrated. I always learn something from you! Thanks for being such a wealth of info. Keep cool!

Comment by sarasinart

The city ‘dispatches’ the racoons when caught. All I have to do is call. Your guess is as good as mine about what that means but I suspect ‘dispatch’ is not pleasant. Zucchini chips-the ones I dried this week were lightly salted, mostly to use in soups next winter. The next batch will be a seasoning salt I really like that’s more ‘chip tasting’ and I have a powdered Creole spice I like to put on them too. I think you could use garlic powder/salt, cinnamon and sugar, cayenne or chipolte pepper, whatever you like. I found that if I do a quick rinse after slicing them, then drain well, that the spices ‘stick’ a bit better than if I sprinkle the dry slices. Oh yeah, we do have an airport. Just sayin’…

Comment by simpleintn

Well thanks for suggesting this, cos they’re done and I like them! I did some plain, some with just a little salt, and sprinkled a dry spinach soup mix on some. Do they last well if you put them in air tight bags after they’re cool? I’ll go get some more zucchini tomorrow and do some more, and next year I’ll be growing some of them. You have an airport but I don’t have wings and don’t get into machines that do, lol. I just refuse to fly any more.Did a few times, didn’t like it. So I won’t be visiting you, but I’d love to. Thanks for this great idea. I’ve heard of it before but now it seemed like I needed to try it.

Comment by sarasinart

Wow, you didn’t waste any time at all! Glad you like them! You can store them in plastic bags, they’re fine. I like to store them in canning jars, just because I have so many. I save those little silica gel packs that come in new shoes and a million other things and add a couple of them to the jars to absorb any moisture that may be released in the jar (or bag).  Well, ten hours or ten minutes-you’re welcome to visit whenever you can.   “Maybe a person’s time would be as well spent raising food as raising money to buy food.” 

Comment by simpleintn

Well it was time to get the dehydrator out and start figuring out good uses for it and your blog just hit me at the right moment. And I was surprised they were done in about 5 hours. Now I’ll work on storing away some other good stuff! Have a good weekend.

Comment by sarasinart

Well I just decided to try it, cos now I’m curious. They’re in the dehydrator now! I like to take a zucchini and use a spiral slicer I have and it comes out like pasta. Add onion or peppers, maybe mushrooms, whatever you’d put in pasta, and an olive oil sauce, and garlic for sure, saute for maybe 5 minutes with a little oil. It’s good stuff! I bet you’d like that too.

Comment by sarasinart

Can you take a picture of this spiral slicer thingy?

Comment by simpleintn

Not for big jobs, and I’m sure there are other things if you were doing a lot, but here’s what I’m talking about. But I got mine at Walmart. http://www.amazon.com/Veggetti-1000203-Spiral-Vegetable-Cutter/dp/B00IIVRB3W

Comment by sarasinart

The power company is a sham. Power usage hours. From crazy hours, the higher rates are when people use them the most like getting up showering ,cooking breakfast, getting kids ready for school, then coming home and cooking dinner. That’s when they with hit you with the higher rates. Of course if your single it might not matter.

Comment by carvergardenfarie

Well gardenfarie, of course the higher rates are when people are using the most! They’re having trouble providing all their customers with all the energy they need (and have to pay higher prices to their energy suppliers to provide all that energy!) That’s why you get lower rates if you sign up for their special time of usage program. If you sign up for the program, you’ll get LOWER rates when you use your energy during off peak hours-during mid day I guess or after 9 PM or whatever. I can adjust to most anything to pay lower rates.

Comment by simpleintn

Sam, I also grew up without AC at home or school, in SC. We also did not have it for our 1st 38 years in E TN–but we did have a shady yard and a house built for cross ventilation. Still prefer to be out on the screen porch rather than inside where the AC is (no cross vert. in this house.) I’ve always had summer clothes I wear at home, but now everywhere else is so cold I have to carry a sweater. Wasted energy!

Comment by JerryandSally Nagel

Thanks, Sam, for the reminder about zucchini chips. I’m ready to try something new. Recently I’ve been pureeing zucchini for a soup base and it’s wonderful. The puree also freezes and can be used later on for some very summery soup in the winter.

Comment by Sandy Aldridge

Hot Pot

Comment by simpleintn

Sandy, You told me last summer about pureeing it. I tried it and it was good but I have plenty now in my freezer for next winter’s soups! Thanks for the tip!

Comment by simpleintn

Remind me again what brand your solar cooker is please:)

Comment by Sandy Aldridge

Hot Pot

Comment by simpleintn

Thanks Sam!

Comment by Sandy Aldridge

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