The Power of Microclimate (2)

On a cold windy winter day (which is the opposite of right now, at least if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere and are reading this post in realtime), there are places where one can sit outdoors in short sleeves and still feel warm. Sheltered “sun-trap” areas on the south sides of buildings, for example.

And on a hot, still, buggy, muggy summer day (like right now), there are places where you can sit and catch a cool breeze, and get away from the bitey crawly insect life.

In permaculture terminology, this concept is called “microclimate”. Microclimate is powerful; it overrides the prevailing climate as a factor in human comfort. Thanks to micro-climate, we can find a still, sunny place to be warm in shirt-sleeves in the dead of winter; we can find a breezy, shady place to cool down to the point of needing a sweater at the height of summer.

At this time last year, I wrote the following journal entry:

Last night I had a wonderful evening, sitting on the steps at the clock-tower/fountain on the Daytona Beach Family Boardwalk. I had a good book with me, and was easily able to read by the lights of the fountain.

Right there by the Boardwalk, the temperature and humidity felt significantly lower than at my place just a couple of blocks away. This is typical. My place is muggy and buggy on a summer night; the Boardwalk is always cooler and drier and less buggy.

The clock tower/fountain offered an excellent microclimate. After sitting there for a couple hours, I really was cool and was on the brink of needing a sweater! I ended up getting up and walking along the beach.

Bonus: Though it hadn’t been part of my evening’s plans (my only plans were to find a comfortable place to sit and read my book), I got to take in a music show. Gentle, family-friendly country tunes by Tony Vanic, at the Waves Beach Bar Hilton, that cute little open-air hangout right by the clock tower. (BTW you can go hear Tony this evening Tony Vanic Live At Oasis Tiki Bar).

And of course, another great bonus of yesterday evening was being OUT and about, amongst people, without having any social obligations. It’s a joy to watch people. Couples, families, little kids, older folks. Just everyone. I like my solitude AND I like being among people.

I guess you could say that in addition to being a good microclimate in physical terms, it’s also a good SOCIAL microclimate there by the clock-tower!

As is probably obvious from the mentions of tiki bars and live music, this was a pre-Covid slice of life, with no need for masks or social distancing. But even now, sitting out at the clock tower or other public space remains an option for breaking out of routine and getting some fresh air. It’s not hard to social-distance outdoors.

Back when I lived in Austin, we’d go to Barton Springs. With a water temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit year-round (imagine how that feels when the air temperature is 108, whch in Austin in summer it not infrequently is!), you could cool off just by sitting on the hillside above the spring-fed pool! The pool was open til 10pm, with free admission after 9. So there were always at least a few people there, and there was a feeling of connectedness and sharing with other people, even if you came alone and didn’t speak with anyone. Like the clock tower, that was a nice social microclimate as well as physical.

What have you noticed about the power of microclimate? Do you have any favorite spots to cool off in the summer without artificial climate control? And what are some of your favorite social microclimates?

Further Reading:

The Power of Microclimate (1), a post I made in December 2018. A winter version of this post!