Into the west


This post will not be as evocative as the haunting score or beautiful vocals by Annie Lennox. Nevertheless, I have my own saga to relate and, as it happens, it is my own “Into the west” tale.

For you to understand the truly epic scope of this story, I must first set the stage for our little drama. It revolves around the fact that I live on the edge of the world.

Practically speaking.

In my area of South Florida, I live as far west as rational and ecological development allows. Take a further drive west of but a single mile and you will be enveloped in the Florida Everglades.

This vast area of marsh and grass extends far beyond the discernible horizon. Perhaps a traveler might find a random ramshackle abode akin to that one might see in a fairy tale forest (or Middle Earth, even).

Beyond that, nothing but gators, egrets, bass and mosquitoes. A lack of construction that makes for spectacular sunsets. And an ethereal feeling on moody foggy walks in “winter”.

My home has both the pleasure and the problem of facing this westerly view. The pleasure is obvious. The problem comes from the nom de lieu of my state, the “Sunshine State”.

Since no multi-story buildings, offices or superstructures appear into the west, I am laid bare to the forces of nature. In particular, the afternoon sun.

This manifests itself in multiple ways. My office is on the front (west) side of the house. It becomes disproportionately hot in the afternoons.

Concurrently, I have a sizable window above my front (west-facing) door. This window illustrates the superb thinking that is so often displayed by South Florida architecture.

To wit: as the sun climbs past my roof and begins to dip in the sky, the rays shine through the window. Directly onto my air conditioner’s thermostat.

Confused by this, the A/C compensates by staying on, lowering the temperatures in the rest of the house into the low 70’s. All the while, the thermostat reads 80 or 81.

And yet, this is still not the most egregious calamity stemming from the afternoon solar bombardment. Those same rays of life-giving energy stream across my home all the way back to the living room.

Where I have my beautiful big screen TV.

Now, of course, I could change my sleeping habits and become nocturnal, only watching TV from 9 pm until 5 am. But I’m too good a neighbor to do that. Some TV watching, movies particularly, demand large sound. I’m attached on both sides. Not a neighborly thing to do at 2 in the morning.

So, after 21 ¾ years with that problem, earlier this week I went out and bought some window tint. For 13 bucks, I solved my problem.

Yes, I had to conquer my fear of ladders (the window starts at 7 feet and goes up to 10 feet). And I had to waste a sheet of the tint as I mismeasured the goofy slant on the window (from 29″ at one end to 35″ at the other).

But in the end, after much wrangling, sweating and doubt, I completed the quest. And I didn’t even have to lose a finger.

The effect is stunningly impactful. The house seems cooler, both in glare and in temperature. Even my thermostat gives (gratefully) silent approval.

Except that there’s this weird stuff on the bottom of the window. It looks like it would be dirt or glue, but I’ve exhaustively cleaned both sides. I even pulled back up the tint and cleaned the inside again. I don’t know what it could be…some defect in the glass itself?

For some reason, I find this intensely disturbing. I’m sure I never noticed it before because, frankly, I never clean that window. In my defense, any dirt on the window could only help block the sun.

Ah well, it’s a pretty impressive job (if 21 years late), with only a slight mis-trim at the very top. One day, perhaps, I’ll redo the whole thing properly. In another 21 years, maybe.

In the meantime, I no longer have fear or regret any time I look into the west.

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