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A Minnesota Epiphany

Recently, we took a road trip to my native state, Minnesota, to visit with family members we hadn’t seen in five years. I’m not going to complain about it like I did in my other posts about it.

Au contraire. I want to share a life-changing, positive revelation I experienced during one of our last days there. I was standing in the parking lot in front of the retirement community, thinking what a beautiful June day it was. You never know in Minnesota; my sister swears it snowed one year during the first week of June.

But during our visit, the weather was perfect. The best part about it? Low humidity.

Humidity. The bane of our existence here in southeast Oklahoma. Here, low humidity days at any time of the year are a special treat to be relished. They are few and far between.

And I don’t care if the humidity here is much lower than that of Houston, Texas. I’m not from Houston. I’m from Minnesota. And living in the South for the past twenty-four years has done nothing to get me used to the almost constantly moist air – even more moist here than in north Texas.

Not only that, I never had allergies until I moved to north Texas at age 23. Then, I would have nasty symptoms every single spring. Now, in rural southeast Oklahoma, surrounded by allergen-producing cedar trees, I (and my husband) experience allergy symptoms the whole year through. These allergies afflict just about everyone who lives in the area, and result from a combination of humidity and cedar trees (not to mention other allergen-producing plants that are in much greater abundance in rural areas than in cities).

Along with my realization that day in Minnesota that the humidity was at a perfect level, I also realized that my allergy symptoms had finally faded away! I was no longer waking up with a cough, or having to sneeze and blow my nose several times a day.

My epiphany

Even I stood there, basking in the non-moist air and warm (not roasting) temperature void of allergens, I realized that I did not want to stay. I wanted to go home.

Home. As in, our five-acre property in southeast Oklahoma…not the city and state where my mother lives. As in, the place that my soulmate and I have worked, and continue working, hard at to make it our dream place. As in, the place surrounded by natural beauty, where we can let weeds grow as tall as they want and where we can be as off-grid as we please without bothering with regulations and permits.

That was Part One of the epiphany. Immediately thereafter, Part Two followed: if southeast Oklahoma is home, then I need to accept the climate and learn how to be happy with it. I need to figure out a way to get rid of the year-long allergies, not continue fantasizing about moving to New Mexico or Arizona.

Making home a healthy, happy place to be

I said nothing to J at the time, but when we arrived back home, I shared these thoughts with him.

#1: I’m going to stop cheaping out on air conditioning in the summer. No arguments from J there; he’d keep the temperature at 70 if I let him! A couple of years ago I twisted his arm to agree to allow the house be as warm as 78 degrees.

But even for cold-natured me, that’s too warm. To sleep, definitely, but sometimes even to think.

In Plano, we kept our thermostat set at 77 in the summer. It gets expensive trying to keep a 2100+ square-foot house cool in 100 degree weather, and we wanted to keep our electricity bill as low as possible because we had some serious financial goals. So it was usually much warmer in the house than J wanted. Ditto for when we lived in the Tuff Shed.

But our small earth-sheltered house is a lot easier to keep cool in the summer. Since J is fine at 72 and 73, and okay up to 75, our new aim is to keep the house between 73 and 75. For the first time in forever, I don’t feel tired all day long on hot days because the indoor temperature is below 77!

#2: I’m going to try out an allergy mask for a couple of months, wearing it any time I’m going to be outside for more than a couple of minutes. If I stop coughing every time I lie down, and stop sneezing ten times (or more) a day, hallelujah! If not, I’ll give it up and reach down deep in my pockets to pay for an Airwise® air purifier.

We currently have carbon filter (same as the mask I just bought, actually) purifiers that are okay noise-wise, as long we keep the fan no higher than medium. But each of them is only supposed to purify 200 square feet of air, and we only have two but our house is almost 600 square feet. They have definitely brought results, as I report in the video below. But our indoor air obviously is not as clean as it could be.

For twice as much money as we paid for the two current air purifiers, we can get a multi-room Airwise® which makes almost no noise, and which will purify up to 1500 square feet. I know these purifiers work, because I’ve used them in the past. One of them also uses less electricity than one of the carbon-filter purifiers.

I decided that spending money for the sake of our respiratory health – and perhaps J getting fewer allergy-based headaches – will be worth it.

#3: I’m going to make working outside enjoyable. I already made one decision along these lines when I decided to use the Kratky method to grow most of my annual crops. This will reduce my work in the garden, and thus my time laboring outside in weather of 95+ degrees and 70+% humidity.

I have also committed to working a few minutes several times a day on whatever garden/orchard maintenance tasks I have to do so that chores don’t become overwhelming. This is easy now that, number one, we are unschooling, and number two, we are not frenetically trying to finish out and move into a house.

It’s also a lot easier because I am no longer almost constantly bombarded with negative thoughts that make me feel like a failure, dissuading me from trying to do anything to turn this acreage into our dream homestead.

Adaptation equals happiness?

My Minnesota revelation boils down to this: I can be happy in any climate, if I would just make the right adaptations to suit my personal comfort levels and health.

Well, except maybe at the Arctic Circle, where the natives live in tents in fifty-degree below zero weather and eat mostly meat.

But for where we are now, my epiphany is already proving itself out.

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