Shutting out the outside means losing things inside

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Some recent nighttime temperatures have been good, even outstanding — in the 50s and 60s with little or no humidity.

That meant that I could throw up the windows and count sheep to my heart’s content — or for 15 seconds, whichever came first before I went to see the Sandman.

Those after-dark lullabies are a great thing. They call up memories of my childhood when Mama and Daddy did not have air conditioning in the ol’ homestead and I listened to Grandpa Bullfrog down on Wallace Farrell’s pond as I drifted off to Dreamland. Throughout much of my childhood, I was my daddy’s right-hand man when we went frog hunting, but I knew enough to leave that one alone, and I prayed nobody else knew about him.

I know I never told anyone he was there. I guess he just finally went off to where old bullfrogs go.

Anyway, he was part of the evening melody I listened to for years — him and the crickets and the whining tree bugs and the croaking toads and even Jimmy Capps on WPTF’s “Our Best to You.” Actually, Jimmy wasn’t part of Mother Nature’s chorus, but he was still part of the total evening package.

It was great stuff. There was a lot about the world I didn’t understand or know, but I knew my Mama and Daddy were in the house, and that’s all I needed to know. I didn’t know about terrorists blowing up airplanes and unemployment and Middle East tensions and stuff like that.

But somewhere along the line that all changed — both the deal with the windows and the size of my world of knowledge. Eventually, Mama and Daddy got a big honking window air conditioner about the size of a small bus. It was great. It sat in a window at the front of the house, coming inside at the dining room table. That meant whoever sat in front of it would find their back ice cold and turning blue after Sunday dinner, but it was OK.

At least we were cool.

It was so big it would cool the entire house, even though it wasn’t centrally located. Later on — I don’t know why for sure — they got a smaller unit that went into a window in the back bedroom where I slept and listened to the outdoors chorus … except now with A/C, I couldn’t leave the windows open, so I lost out on my nighttime buddies.

When our troop moved into our current location, we asked the builders to install central air conditioning, which they said they would but we would have to pay for it — both to be installed and to operate. Still, we were pretty sure it would be worth it all.

Now, I keep the thing cranked down to 70 or so, and I know all the Green Movement People will tell me how wasteful I am. Guess what? It’s staying on 70 ... except when there are nights, like some recent ones when the temps are so good, we can cut off the A/C and fling up the windows.

Then, hearing Grandpa Frog’s grandson singing “Knee Deep” on the banks of our pond, along with an assorted chorus of katydids, tree frogs, whatchamacallits, and other things chiming in, I find I’m relaxed — even with double-digit inflation, double-talk from the politicians and being (or at least feeling) double-crossed on other fronts, that I don’t care.

And once again, I’m content. I’m pretty sure if some of the folks making decisions today would spend an evening listening to bullfrogs croak, they’d be in a better state of mind — and maybe make some sane decisions once in a while.

Couldn’t hurt.

Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.

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