Aunt Ida warns against haste in the blood.

Over a year ago I shared here a few excerpts from old letters written from Central and South America by Aunt Ida. I still plan to transcribe them all and share some more stories, but I’m afraid have fallen right down on that job.

This week we’ve been struck by an unusual heat wave. No one has AC here, because it’s so rarely warranted, and my recent experiences of wilting and sweating made me remember this passage from one letter in which she writes home to her sisters about how to cope in the Panamanian climate. I managed to dig it up and offer it here for anyone who may have need of it.

Tues. a.m. Aug. 5, 1919 …I like this country. Talk about the lure of the tropics. It’s got me. You couldn’t pull me away from here. It’s warm but everything is built for it. And it’s always the same so you can get ready for it and stay ready. I sleep with a sheet partly over me every night, and it’s the same at 4 a.m. as at 9 p.m. Everything is built open like a porch and tightly screened and it’s comfortable. All you have to remember is to take it easy and not hurry. “Never hurry” …. A negro sewing woman said one reason why I was so warm was because I had “haste in my blood.” And that is right. If you even “feel” in a hurry, the heat just surges through you. But if you keep calm, you stay cool. This place would never do for Ma. She’d just naturally die. Because she has so much “haste in her blood” and she simply cannot learn to take it easy. You have to learn it or you perish. You know how easy I take things – well if I keep that pace I’m OK but just let me take a spell where I want to straighten up or do the least thing and I’m all “het up.”

May you all keep as cool as possible this summer, in every sense of the word.

10 thoughts on “Aunt Ida warns against haste in the blood.

  1. What a great insight! As a proverbial “Type B” who has lived for years in the tropics – I innately understood that, but never thought about it enough to put it into words. Thanks for sharing : )

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  2. What a wonderful letter! I love the phrase “all het up.”

    We've been having a relatively cool summer here, but still need A/C. I'm training myself to live with higher temperatures in order to use less energy, and can now sleep with the thermostat set at 75.

    When I lived in Massachusetts during grad school, no one had air conditioners, and August could be a very uncomfortable month. But all in all, it was nice to live without it. I hope it cools down where you are soon!

    xofrances

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  3. This topic really interests me as a Southerner. We now have A/C everywhere in the Deep South, but when I was a child, we did not. We had one window unit for the entire house, and we turned it on for a few hours only on Sunday afternoons — usually b/c we had company. The rest of the time, it was just HOT. We had no screened in porch. No ceiling fans. No swimming pool or pond. Southerners then learned, as your Aunt Ida did, to live very slowly in the summer. Afternoons were generally for napping or sitting quietly in the shade. Children and the elderly were watched carefully for overheating.

    Southerners sometimes have a reputation for laziness that I believe is entirely undeserved. We MUST live slowly and rest b/c of the heat. People from cooler climates simply don't understand this. It's more true of Southerners who don't live near any water, who are poor, or who live in rural areas. I enjoyed Aunt Ida's letter!

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  4. That is one problem I don't have….no haste, that is for sure. We have had an unseasonable cool front for the past few days and so when we went walking this morning and it had already gotten up to 79 we were sweating and complaining about the “heat.” Spoiled in a just a few days….

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  5. Love this. I have a bias toward the name Ida (my old piano teacher for years, starting at age 5…) and love every bit of what you have written from your own Ida. Keep it coming! 😉 It has gotten up to 110 here, so we are trying to eliminate haste but are also running our A/C. 😉

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  6. That is so great, I must admit to having lots of haste in my blood. I will have to watch that.

    This heat is hard but at least I have air conditioning. I can't imagine not having it right now during this heat wave.

    It might break for a few days but back to the triple digits next week.

    My garden is happy.

    Have a lovely weekend. I love your letters. I hope you can transcribe more.

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  7. Elizabeth from church, who lives here in my town, told me her father grew up in the Canal Zone. Her family also lived in Venezuela for a few years. I think you could have a nice chat and tell her about your aunt's letters.

    Dana

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