Sunday, February 26, 2017

Spring has sprung early.

On Friday morning, as usual, I walked out the door of our apartment building and crossed the parking lot to the bus stop. And stopped. Because on the street right next to the stop, there's a cherry tree, and it had burst into bloom overnight.

Keep in mind that it's still February. It ought to be the dead of winter here. And yet our cherry trees are beginning to bloom. (There's photographic proof over to the left.) And a friend told me today that her daffodils are blooming.

We've had an odd sort-of-winter here in the mid-Atlantic. Despite what Punxatawny Phil predicted on Groundhog Day, spring appears to have sprung several weeks early here. We had a run of 70-degree days this past week. And while snow is not out of the question -- we've had storms in mid-March that have dumped several inches of the stuff on us -- my gut is telling me it's unlikely this year.

The problem for me isn't the outdoor temperature -- it's the indoor temperature. You see, our apartment building uses hot-water radiators for heat. Turning the central boiler on and off is a process, so the building management picks a day in late spring, typically in May, to switch off the heat and turn on the air conditioning. They do the same thing in reverse in the fall. And although we have thermostats in our apartments, they only work so well: even with the heat turned to off, the radiators still radiate. 

Invariably, we have some days during each transition period where the indoor temperature is sub-optimal; either we're baking inside because it's hot outside and the heat is on, or it's freezing inside because we've had a cold snap while the a/c is on. It happens every spring and fall. And every spring and fall, like clockwork, somebody in the building complains.

I try to be sympathetic, but please. I grew up in a house with no heat in the bedrooms. My father built the place as a summer home, so he installed wall heaters in the common areas, figuring that was all we'd need. Once we moved there permanently, we made do. If I wanted to be warm in my bedroom when I was a kid, I had three choices: a) burrow under the covers, or b) keep the door open, or c) both.

Plus I've lived in places with radiators before, so I know the drill: When it's too hot inside, you put on shorts and open the windows. When it's too cold inside, you fire up a space heater or two, and put on extra layers.

Explaining that to the complainers, however, gets me nowhere. So I guess I'll keep smiling and nodding, opening my windows and wearing shorts inside, until it gets cold again, or until the management turns on the a/c -- whichever comes first.

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These moments of bloggy warmth have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.
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