Monday, January 11, 2010

You shouldn't need me to tell you, but

You don't need me to tell you it has been bitter cold here for about a week.  & yes, I know it is colder elsewhere.  But bitter cold here is like a heatwave in Maine, the locals just are not prepared.

In addition to the standard Florida fare of snowbirds in trailers  & migrant workers in shacks (this is where both of them spend their winters), we also have the standard home construction here:  the cracker cottage.  Where I am from, you would not call a building a cracker cottage anymore than you would call it a honky house, but it is an actual kind of architecture.

A cracker house is a simple wooden frame house, often with a tin roof & among other distinct features, it is raised off of the ground.  This makes it easier to keep termite & other bug free.  There is usually almost as much outside room (porch) as there is inside & the front door generally opens into a room or hallway that runs straight through to the back of the house, often the long way if it is a rectangular building.  Even our house, which is not a cracker house in any other respect, has such a dog run.  Interior walls often have windows,so that the whole house can be truly opened up to catch a cooling breeze.

Anyone who has spent any amount of time in a cold climate can probably spot several design flaws.  The most treacherous is that business of being off the ground.  Yes, it is good for keeping down bugs.  It is also nice to have a shady spot to put things (dogs come to mind) when the summer gets hot-Hot-HOT.  It is also the reason half the houses on this road do not have water:  there is nothing to keep those pipes from freezing so around dusk, you turn off your pump & drain the water out of the system.  You can turn it back on when it warms up in the morning.  If it doesn't warm up in the morning...well, you cans see why 29F at noon is a problem here.

Someday, when this winter is over, let me suggest you pay a visit to some of the local cracker houses open to the public.  The closest to me right now is the Dudley Family Farm, although there is every possibility the legislature will be closing that as well as several other State Parks over the next few months.  You might instead go to see that most famous cracker house:  Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings home &, well lets say studio.  Get out of your air conditioned car & let the temperature catch-you-up.

Then walk into the grove of trees surrounding every cracker house I have seen & feel it get cool again.  Walk through the front door; it will get cooler still.

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