Is it allowed to post about Houston’s weather?

We nearly put the air conditioning on yesterday afternoon. I suppose it was about 82 degrees out and we were hot. But Dave said he could stand it, that even with the oven and the stove blaring heat waves, the attic fan was enough. We toughed it out, adjusting which windows were open, bringing in the fresher air from outside. Where was that cold front? Friday? Not today, Thanksgiving, when we need a little nip in the air? Come on Houston!

My grandfather moved the family here from Rochester Minnesota after a November visit. He thought Houston’s weather was fabulous. My great grandmothers skipped baking their famous German cookies from June through September. My dad tells of the progression from nothing but porches, to ceiling fans, then attic fans, and finally delicious air conditioning, first in the theaters. What would Houston be like if that air conditioning hadn’t come in? Dare I say possibly a lot more livable in nearly all the respects that matter?

My undergrad advisor feared for my productivity when I moved to Texas. I think he thought the heat made us lethargic, and when it didn’t do that, it made us content. Is contentment the enemy of productivity? I certainly spent enough days fully dressed against the wasps, straw hat against the sun, waiting to be completely bathed in sweat which cooled slightly when it could evaporate, and dreaming of sitting in an outdoor bar with friends and an ice cold draft.

When we picked Philip up after summer camp in the Hill Country, he shivered in the air-conditioned car. I was delighted that Camp Champions did not air condition the cabins. But mostly, we too succumb to the oil addiction that is air conditioning. We try to limit it to when we are home and no earlier than June or later than September, and only above 80, but it still cools and costs.

Fortunately, Thanksgiving took care of itself, and by evening we were shivering and putting on down coats inside. I think it got down to about 42 degrees. We don’t like to heat either, made it through the entire winter without it two or three years ago.

Soon I’ll share my weather-related theory on why Houstonians are so beautiful.


The attic fan in the hall upstairs, closed.


The attic fan in use, slats open.


The attic side of this wonderful fan that vents the whole house into the attic.


The boy sleeping in the chilly attic.


About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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