AC: Made in the Shade

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This is the time of year that even in the mountains, the heat enters into the conversation along with the details of the last thunderstorm that hit one neighborhood but didn’t shed a drop on the next.Folks sometimes want to know if we have air conditioning here in the old house.Heck no. We heat with wood. We cool with it, too.Five large maples constitute our summer cooling. The largest is the one in the front yard off the porch; it still has the remains of two-by-four steps that once gave somebody’s children access to the thick fork of branches that shelter the road.

Two maples are above Goose Creek along the road, blocking our southern windows both from the hottest part of the day and from a full view of the pasture, May til November.

The fourth maple is to our west, between the branch that runs beside the house and the driveway. We’d really suffer the late afternoon sun for a while before it dropped below the high horizon well before the rest of the county experienced the same some hours later.

The fifth maple, to the northwest beside the shed, is the only one we could lose and not be hotter for it.

This picture (larger image) of a single shaft of light, a tiny packet of solor photons, makes me appreciate how many more of these light-to-heat rays don’t reach the house in the summer months, thanks to our solar-powered organic air-conditioning system of maple trees.

They’ll have their work cut out for them today. And the floor fans and ceiling fans may see their first action before dark.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. That photo is so soft I want to run in the grass with shorts and suspenders I think my father wore when he was little. You sure Kinkade doesn’t take your feed?

    I love it:

    Heck no. We heat with wood. We cool with it, too.

  2. That photo has a “painterly” feeling – did you mess with it to get that look?

    It will be 94* here today, with equal or more humidity; the air cond. is on and the fans are already running!

  3. ahh, the best type of AC….it was 100* here at 5 in the evening! we have covered porches that block windows on both sides of our house, but on days like yesterday, even that doesn’t help much.

    i love the photo…i want to jump into it and curl up under that tree with a good book. 🙂

  4. You are all, far more hardy than I, when it comes to heat. I keep a steady 72, year around. My AC could be cranking in May or Nov when it gets too hot.

    Better photography than Kinkade, more real life, less staged.

  5. I am betting that type of AC works a lot better up there than in Alabama… 🙂

    Sure is a lot prettier than ours though!