Even though Vermont has long been a summer refuge for folks looking to escape the heat of the city, the weather here does get pretty steamy at times.
We can count on several stretches in July and August when the temperatures are north of 90 degrees for several days running. While that’s not a big deal for people from other places, the high heat and humidity can leave many Vermonters longing for the days when it’s so cold we can’t feel our toes.
After all, Vermont is just not built for sweltering summers. Home air conditioning is still something of a luxury, and central air conditioning is downright unusual. In a place where people heat their homes from October through May (and sometimes into June!), we view home air conditioning the same as we do swimming pools—somewhat frivolous for something that will only be used for a few months.
So, how do we beat the heat? We use old-fashioned, tried-and-true ways to keep cool when it’s hotter than you-know-what.
We’re early risers, so we take advantage of the morning air by letting the cool breeze flow through the house, in the doors and windows on one side, and let the hot air go out the other. Early morning is also the time to get any cooking done. The oven is “out of order” for the rest of the day!
When the rising sun begins to feel warm, we quickly close the doors, windows, blinds, and curtains to keep the cool air in for as long as possible. It’s like holding your breath, waiting until sunset to exhale and open everything up again.
Truth is, we’ll take any excuse, including a heat wave, to use our screened-in porches to sleep—in fact, some homes have sleeping porches built right in! Fresh air and starlight, combined with the rhythmic chirping of crickets, have a soothing effect that can coax even cranky little ones into
a deep slumber.
When it’s just too hot to do much of anything, we head to our local swimming hole for a refreshing dip in a crystal blue lake—fed by mountain streams—that stays chilly no matter how high the mercury rises. And when all else fails, there is always ice cream! Straight from the freezer or piled high on a cone from a local creemee stand (Mildred’s Dairy Bar for us), ice cream on the hottest of days never fails to tame the heat until the very last lick.
Gardner, Cabot, Eliot & Lyman Orton, Proprietors of The Vermont Country Store