The box fan propped inside the kitchen window hums behind me. I’m outside, because at least out here, a breeze has begun to blow. It’s hot. Not like hazy, hot, and humid hot, but still hot. Like the kind of stifling heat of my freshman dorm room. My roommate brought a powerful floor fan, and we kept it cranked up. It helped only at little in the air-conditionless dormitory. The big white house in Campbellsburg was likewise old and minus an air-conditioner, so it was plus a metal box fan, a few plastic ones, and the attic fan. Something about the familiar whir of a good ol’ plugged-in, 1-2-3-knobbed fan whistles a nonconformist tune, open and simple.
My brother and I used to sit in front of the fan and talk, laughing at our own antics. A few years before “Luuuukke, I amm yourrrr faaaaa-ther,” we threw our voices into the spinning paddles and relished the results. Sometimes, we carried on a ridiculous conversation. Other times, a long and drawn out “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh” would suffice. Dual purpose: entertaining and cooling.
At night, if the setting was on low, I could hear the crickets and cicadas singing through. The lullaby of the simple machine accompanying the insect song hovered over the sleep of the sun-kissed and play-worn. The dawn let the temperatures drop to that dewy morning cool, the air pressed the motor and the paddles a little harder, and I snuggled a little deeper under the covers.
At some point, we moved to a house with central air. Rarely did the windows have the same usage, and the box fans went by the wayside. Outside of freshman and sophomore years in Lexington, fans were a relic of my way back past.
I’m sitting outside, at our home in Colorado, miles and years away from my childhood and college. The chatter from my son’s television show pours through the open windows. My husband’s glass clanged as he set it on the countertop. No loud voices–happy ones or frustrated ones–spilling out of our house would be kept from earshot of the mom who just walked past with her little boy. My neighbor watered her flowers and invited Journey the dog over the play with Oliver the dog. Because we don’t have air-conditioning, because we went outside to feel the littlest offering of the wind.
The fan in the window drones steadily. Night is coming. The welcome coolness of the dawn will be a while.