Summer’s End?

Unlike the States or Europe, there are only two seasons in Panama. “Winter” and “Summer.” The “wet” and “dry.” Being that Panama sits nearly on the Equator, my house is 8°30’84” N, our seasons more closely correspond to those in the Southern Hemisphere than they do in the Northern. Summer, the “dry” season, is roughly from November to the middle of April. It’s when the kids have their longest school recess.

And it gets HOT here in the summer. A dry, searing, heat that turns lawns the color of Cheerios and it crunches like Rice Krispies under foot when you walk across it.

Front Lawn

The river next to my house has been nearly bone dry.

Dry River 3-17-2

A few months ago I wrote about my electric bill only being eight dollars and change. Monday I paid the most recent and it was just a few cents shy of $60. That’s because in the middle of the afternoon it has been like living in an oven and I’d run the air conditioning every day until well after dark when the cool air from the mountains sinks down onto the flat.

For the last couple of weeks nature has been toying with us. There have been a few sprinkles here and there. Not much, but enough to stimulate what passes for grass, here, to sprout. While the lawn looks forlorn, all of this stuff is indigenous to the area and adapted to the yearly cycles of wet and dry. Just add water. Some days, of late, thunder could be heard up in the hills in the afternoons and at night the southern sky would light up as lightning flashed out over the Pacific Ocean. But it was just a tease. There was no rain accompaniment.

On Monday, April Fool’s Day, I had an afternoon doctor’s appointment for a physical which is required for me to get a motorcycle endorsement added to my driver’s license since I’m over 70. While in the office the skies opened up and it rained so hard and so loud for about 15 minutes that it nearly masked the doctor’s questions. But it only lasted a few minutes and then it was hot all over again.

But this afternoon (April 4th) it changed. Around three o’clock, as is usual in the “rainy” season it started to pour. It was like the entire barrio was sitting under a water fall. Puddles formed in the low areas of the yard and thunder and lightning assaulted the area. It lasted for nearly two hours. That’s how it is, here, in the “winter.” The mornings are glorious. Blue skies. Cotton ball clouds. In the early afternoon it starts to cloud up and we get a couple of hours of rain. So, in the “winter” you get up, get what needs to be done, done. Get your laundry up on the line to dry before noon, do your grocery shopping and then settle back for the inevitable rain.

For the most part, people here like the rain. It moderates the temperature and makes living comfortable. I don’t need to turn on the a/c. A fan will do. And for the first time in months, when I step out onto the front porch, I can once hear the river running over the stones again.


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2 responses to “Summer’s End?

  1. Yep, it does feel different this week. I’ve really enjoyed the changes that summer has brought but I’m ready for rain again, cooler weather, and more green.

  2. Alex

    Would high ceilings and tree shade make enough of a difference to avoid such a high electric bill? I think you live in Boqueron which is hot but I forget how Hot it can get.

    I’m not so sure how much of a difference high ceilings would make, but I’m sure some good tree shade would help. One architectural feature I’ve noticed in several of the older houses I’ve either been in or have been able to see into from the street that’s interesting is that in many the walls of the rooms don’t reach all the way to the ceiling. What this does is allow air to circulate throughout the house, of course which, I imagine, contributes to keeping it cooler.

    But now that the rainy season is asserting itself and the dense cloud cover moderating the temperatures during the afternoons, I’ve only had the a/c on for short bursts while I’ve been cooking. Right now there’s a nice breeze flowing through the house and I’m quite comfortable and sure that the electric bills will fall back to their normal levels in another month or so.