It’s been hot recently.
The change in temperature is a welcome reprieve from endless days of rain and clouds. But this heat brought with it not just sun, but humidity. Lots and lots of humidity.
“It’s not the heat that gets ya, it’s the humidity”
This is true for most of the country, save perhaps the southwest and west coast. The Midwest, northeast, southeast, and Midatlantic all know that it’s not just the temperature that matters – it’s the dew point too.
I don’t mind the heat these days. I don’t want to do much, true, but hanging around in warm weather is exactly what my ancestors did and what I want to do during the hot summer months.
I used to lock myself in my bedroom and create a reading nook next to the AC vent. I would hunker down with a book or two and spend hours letting the cool air and the solitude wash over me. These days I’m just as happy to set up camp outside under a tree and read a book. My Irish ancestry doesn’t let me spend much time in the sun, but I still love being outside.
However, being in the van in the heat presents unique challenges. Managing the internal temperature, for one. I don’t have AC in the van: instead, I have many window covers that reflect the light, two rooftop fans to pull fresh air in and send hot air out, and two mounted fans to move the air around inside. These do the trick, mostly. It’s not AC by any means, but it keeps the internal temperature between 80 and 85. Bearable, if sweaty.
That doesn’t stop me from worrying about my dog whenever I have to leave. Truly, there’s not much to worry about. I know the van stays in a manageable range, and Diamond has never been one to shy away from the heat. She loves it. She was rescued to New York from South Carolina, and I imagine much of her early days were spent outside in the low country heat. When I lived in an apartment, she would spend hours in the backyard, rotating between the sweltering hot blacktop of the driveway and the comparative coolness of the grass. She seeks out patches of sunlight, allows her entire body to heat up, then finds shade to do it all over again.
Still, I worry about her. Less about her overheating and more about her hydration. The heat affects the appetite as I know all too well, and I worry she’s on a slow path to dehydration.
It’s too hot inside the van to cook and too buggy to use to camping stove. Meals are relegated to scavenging snacks and the occasional sandwich. Dinner has been moved past 8 pm so the sun is nearly gone when I light the stove. The fridge and freezer are working overtime, pumping out so much heat you feel it when you stand next to it. And yes, the toilet too. It’s not that it gets stinkier when it’s hot, but that the odor lingers for longer with all the water in the air.
I’ve been in Maine for several days now and will be here for the foreseeable future. The coast is stunning and the water is brisk. The people are friendlier than in New Hampshire (which takes the cake for least friendly state so far) and I can’t wait to make my way north.
Some days the novelty of van life is enthralling and others overwhelming. I’m grateful to have a partner to share with the daily decisions we need to make, from where to work and park overnight to where to throw out garbage.
I still feel myself slowing down, craving stillness. This week in particular I’ve been meditating more, a habit I’ve fallen out of over the past four months. Interestingly, I find myself less drawn to journaling and writing about my experiences. I don’t want to forget them, but I also don’t want to feel like the designated recorder of my own life. I just want to live in it.