Sunday, July 22, 2007

It’s getting hot, again!

I know that July is supposed to be hot and muggy, but I really can never get used to it. I hate having air conditioning but I love it, too. I love being able to cool off when the temperatures are so hot and steamy but I hate the idea of closing up the house and shooting cold air all around. My ideal summer would be to have 80° as the tops and slightly breezy – no bugs, of course. My “utopia” would be to have the windows open constantly, day and night with no uncomfortable-ness at all.

We have had many days that way – I wake up to wonderful breezes and go to bed with the windows wide open. But today it is sneaking up to 90° with that humidity that is so well known for Minnesota and it will be so for about a week, now.

Did you know? In the 1840s, 50s, 60s, there was a rush to get people from other countries to come settle in America. There were advertisements, pamphlets and newsletters sent over, especially to the Scandinavian countries and Germany to entice settlers to come to Minnesota. The ads promised mild weather, winter AND summer – no bugs, no diseases. To quote an article about this very fact, “The climate is endowed with extraordinary healing powers for tuberculosis and other pulmonary diseases.”

Can you imagine? Can you picture? The Scandinavian people lived in a climate where they wore wool clothing most of the year. They would wear linen shirts but most of the rest of the clothing was wool, even in their summer, as most of the summer was cool compared to our country. Women, especially, wearing petticoats, heavy shirts, wool skirts trying to survive in 80°, 90° or higher, with high humidity. Mosquitoes, gnats, “no-see-ums”, ticks; there were all kinds of unknown bugs to make the hot weather even worse. In the winter the log cabins that were built were not as snug and cozy as the houses back home. “It wasn’t this way back in the old country! Why didn’t someone tell me how miserable it was going to be?”

When I dress in period costume to demonstrate, especially in the hot weather, like yesterday, I am very conscious of what women went through back then. The women wore all those layers (and I wear as few as are legally possible and am still extremely hot) and working hard, cooking, cleaning, caring for children, gardening (and I only sit and spin) no matter how hot the weather is. THAT is when I am grateful for air conditioning … THAT is when I come home and strip all the layers off and take a nice shower and dress in something modern and COOL and put my feet up in the cool air. And think of my ancestors and feel grateful that they survived this horrendous heat so that we can now live in comfort.
It is a beautiful day today, even though it IS hot. You have a beautiful cool or air-conditioned day.


Moonbeam said...

I remember when I worked at the museum our Sunday best costume consisted of a wool dress with petticoats. So hot! Luckily the rest of the summer was linen shirt, skirt and shawl and bare feet! I loved that part of the job.

Cris said...

We've had so much rain and it's been cold, nice piece of history Connie, what I know basically comes from the movies I saw as a child, and your stories get me thrilled.