Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Life Without Air

Ninety percent of American homes are air-conditioned.

Ninety percent.

Talk about carbon footprint.

That's why, for pagans, air-conditioning is a religious issue.

That's why—at least for now—I plan to remain one of the ten percent.

I live in a big old brick house in Minnesota, where it's too cold during the winter and too hot during the summer. Usually we're pretty comfortable until the bricks heat up around Old Midsummer's/Fourth of July. Then it can get pretty hot.

Fortunately, my friend Craig comes from Dallas, and is just old enough to remember life BA (Before Air). Here's what he recommends.

Close by day, open by night. If it's hotter outside than in, keep the windows closed. When it's cooler outside, open them up. This is especially important when humidity is high. Once your house fills up with muggy air, you're just going to steam, and there you are. (I've actually seen days when the inside-outside heat differential is so great that the windows fog up.)

Keep it dark. Sunlight heats. Draw the blinds, close the curtains.

Moving air. Keep a running fan in the room. You're cooler when the air moves.

Hydrate. Sweat cools. Drink lots of water. Eat spicy food. Drink hot beverages. Counter-intuitive, maybe, but you will feeler cooler as a result.

Dress down. Take off as much as you comfortably can. Sarongs aren't just for festivals.

Be patient. When the body is continuously exposed to high temperatures, it eventually acclimates. The key word here is continuously. For the ninety percent, these somatic coping mechanisms never kick in. As a people, Americans seem incapable of tolerating even the slightest amount of discomfort. Cushy living has made us weak. That's not a long-term survival strategy, folks.

Love the night. If it can wait until nighttime, let it wait.

Water cools. Take a cold shower. Put your feet in ice water. Drape a wet kaffiyeh around your neck.

As the planet heats up, likely things are only going to get worse. Personally, I'm not categorically opposed to air-conditioning. Who knows: some summer I may even break down and join the ninety percent.

But for now, I'm proud still to be one of the ten.

The few. The proud.

The stinky.








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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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