Thursday, August 25, 2022

Welcome Relief, For Some of Us

A resident Mississippi Kite near its nest
Biblically large weather events are becoming the norm, it seems. But for once, our little corner has had some respite from the very hot and muggy, but otherwise very dry days we'd been experiencing for over a month.

The weather that caused the "thousand-year flood" that hit Dallas the other day produced drenching but moderate rain for us, and the soil was able to absorb it without causing any damage to the Farm. The nandinas that I thought I'd lost have greened up, and the grass has needed mowing twice in the last two weeks (after not growing a smidgen for the previous month)--which is about normal for fall. So maybe that's what's going on now. The windows are all open, and we haven't had the A/C on for three days, even at night. The animals (especially the Great Hairy Beast, Nylah, who has shed an entire coat's worth of fur this summer) are coping well. It's still muggy, but cool and breezy enough to keep things relatively pleasant. Especially compared to recent days.

Our mornings out of doors have included entertainment from a couple of Mississippi Kite pairs who've built nests in the same elm tree. We're not quite sure what we're seeing, because we didn't realize that there were probably young ones involved until recently, but we haven't been able to spot a fledgling. So we could just be seeing fledged babies hanging around and testing their wings (and making lots of noise) before they migrate south. There seems to have been another crop of bunnies as well, and a faithful new hummingbird or two, so our efforts to sustain them all appear to be paying off. It's actually been cool enough that the squirrels have stopped spending all day splooting and have resumed their mad scrambles across the yard and through the trees.

Because this is Texas, we have learned to enjoy good weather while it lasts, so I'm not going to count on many more days of this, even though more rain is forecast for next week. [An aside: is anyone but me bothered by the fact that a couple of my weather apps, including the one that comes with the iPhone, have started saying "forecasted"--as in, "more rain forecasted for this afternoon"? Ack!]

Once again, though, even our spate of uncomfortable weather needs to be appreciated with some gratitude for not being even hotter. I do hope that the experience will encourage folks around here to take advantage of upcoming assistance with upgrading to more efficient appliances, electric vehicles, and the like. We will be looking into replacing our gas furnace with an electric heat pump, even though it will be more expensive to do so. But we've been trying to reduce our dependence on natural gas for some time, and although the monthly energy bill will likely go up, we should at last be able to afford the shift. 

TBS's fondest wish, an electric vehicle, is probably not on the menu, however. We only have the one car now (a Jeep Gladiator for pulling our travel trailer), and since we don't drive much at all anyway, we'll wait until after the household energy situation has been modified. When Chevrolet launches its new electric Silverado, though, and if the range is good enough, we may well trade in the Jeep. And then we could use the truck as backup during blackouts. Our portable power station worked well during the heat wave, when we lost electricity for a couple of hours, but one of those trucks (Like the Ford F150 Lightning) can power an entire house for a couple of days. One of the favorite television programs around our house is Fully Charged (also available on  YouTube), where up-to-date, accurate information is available for anyone interested in the whole question of rethinking our grid.

Mind you, my technological skepticism drives me toward more traditional mitigation efforts--like window coverings, water-saving and reclamation efforts, and energy conservation. But as careful as we have been to reduce our use of air conditioning and other efforts to lessen our impact on the grid, we were pretty restricted in what we could accomplish. And we're retired, with no real travel obligations. And some of our food is delivered every week. So we don't have to get out much. Folks who have more energy-demanding lives have been facing enormous utility bills, without many options. Clearly, alternatives to the status quo will need to be explored by lots more people, and not just aging hippies like us.

The end of August is upon us. September is often our hottest month. We'll probably spend the rest of the month, if it stays cool-ish, getting done what we've been putting off--like getting some fall "crops" in. But we're not particularly hopeful that our good fortune will last, so we'll relish the respite while we can. Stay cool, People. Peace out.