Hot Enough for You?

WHEN IT’S NINETY-FRICKIN’-FIVE DEGREES, and the air is choked with humidity, I cool off by looking at wintertime photos of my house and gardens. As you can see in the picture up top, my porch steps were barely passable after a blizzard struck in December, 2010. Here are more images from that storm, followed by this burning question: What’s the weather like where you are?

Winter, 2010:  I was amazed (and amused) by the Canadian geese who frolicked in the icy creek  behind my Woodland Garden.  Just now, while sitting in my un-air-conditioned (and consequently stifling) Writing Room, that water looks rather appealing.

Just as they do during most winters, the pair of three-tiered fountains in my Rose Garden transformed themselves into  wedding cakes. Who else feels like grabbing some of that snow, mounding it in a paper cone, and then cloaking it with blueberry syrup?

After the storm, I took a long-handled broom  and attempted to knock the heavy snow off the arborvitae hedge (you have to do this to protect fragile limbs). Can you guess what happened? I lost my balance, and then slid — on my derriere — all the way down the steep slope.  Well, I can laugh about it now.

At the end of the arborvitae-row is a replica of Venus de Milo.  What a clothes-horse!  Click the photo above, and you’ll see that she’s dressed to kill in frosty-white ermine and matching pill-box hat.

Standing next to Venus, looking down at the  Herb Garden. The snow had just started to fall. In case you’re wondering, that’s the Music Room on the right, the old Kitchen Wing (built in 1794) on the left, and the main house (built in 1826) at the rear.

The Herb Garden, a few hours later. If you are sweltering in the July heat right now, the snow-cloaked chairs against the Music Room wall might look rather inviting to you.

I learned to cook in the parlor fireplace that winter. What fun! In the crock on the left are navy beans with aromatic vegetables and a bit of smoked pork. In the cast-iron skillet is Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. Open-hearth cooking is a great skill to have when the power goes out on a stormy night. Perhaps, next winter, I can discuss the lost art of fireplace cookery in detail. Let me know if this subject interests you.

Note the two icicles outside (and the frost inside) the pair of arched windows at the top of the staircase. Oh, the joys of living in a 200 year old house.

I hope you enjoyed this little blast of cold. Now tell me: How’s the weather where you are? I suspect some of you are much hotter than I am.

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Related Posts:
The July Chores
My First “Open Day” & A Brief Garden Tour
Prepping for Tours: The Rose Garden


  1. Maricela says:

    Beautiful House

  2. Thank you so much. I am, and always have been, a winter person. I love hunkering down with a fire in the wood stove, a glass of red and a turkey in the oven. I would love to hear more about cooking in the fireplace even though mine is full of the wood stove.

  3. Heather Schlerf says:

    Thanks for the COOL photos. I’ll try to picture them when I am sweltering in the hot sun. Our temps have been close to 100 degrees in NH this week.

  4. Margaret Rose says:

    Kevin, your house is so lovely! I quite enjoy your pictures, and they make me feel nice and cozy in this vile, 100 degree Virginia heat.

  5. Thanks for the lovely pics! I have not spent an entire winter in upstate NY since 1992 but will be here this year. You have given me something to look forward to ….

  6. Maricela – Thank you. We are still — after 10 years — still restoring the house.

    Mo – I’m with you, right down to the red wine. I think the house looks its best in winter, especially when the fires are lit. An open-hearth cooking-tutorial coming in October.

    Heather Schlef – Stay cool if you can — Just thinking of the heat in NH and else where makes me shudder.

    Margaret Rose – Glad to hear the pictures gave you a chill. I’ll try to send a cold-front your way.

    Dena – I hope we can deliver snow for your visit this winter. Last year, a snowstorm on October 29, then nothing for the rest of the season. But winter of 2010-11, which was when the above photos were taken, was a typical New England one.

  7. That was surprisingly refreshing, Kevin! I was surprised at how cooling they felt. And there is something particularly beautiful about looking at a garden in winter — one can see the lines and space in such a different way than when all is bloomed out. Beautiful!

  8. Donna B. says:

    See, to me the concept of “snow birds” is odd and strange.
    I *LOVE* winter weather! [Unfortunately, I don’t like it when I have to commute in it… ugh.]
    It’s wonderful to see a more expansive view of your gardens in the wintertime.
    That wedding cake looks divine!!!
    And don’t worry, I’ve fallen down many times trying to whack snow from my neighbour’s thuja… just so it wouldn’t snap in half! [sadly, we lost two of them during H. Irene in 2011…] so I understand your pain… hee hee.

  9. What a great post for a Hot summer day! Enjoy the summer now, cuz the snow storms will come and those nose hairs will freeze in just a few short months! Thanks for the cool reminder:)

  10. It was very nice looking at those winter pictures! It has been very hot here in Michigan, but today we have gotten a bit of a reprieve, thunderstorm in the early morning (we needed the rain badly) and so far at 3:30pm we are having a cool 82 degrees! Won’t last long, we are in for more upper 90’s for the rest of the week. Even though I don’t have a fireplace, I would love to read your tutorial on cooking on the hearth.

  11. badger gardener says:

    Aaahhh yes, some blueberry or maple syrup poured on a genuine snow cone would be so wonderful. My son has a Sponge Bob sno-cone maker that I’ll have to ask him to bring out as a substitute.
    I would love to hear about the art of fireplace cooking when Winter comes again!! We don’t have a fireplace right now but I love reading about “primitive” cooking techniques.

  12. renee barry says:

    Have you noticed in your neck of the woods that the squirrels and rabbits have disappeared? I live in st. Louis and have not seen a one in June or July. Visited Dominican republic and Vegas in June and didn’t see them there either. Weird. Like they have vanished from the face of the earth.

  13. Tammy – So glad you found the photo gallery refreshing. At the moment it is so still and humid here that I feel like…well, like diving into one of those photos!

    Donna B. Winter is my favorite season, too. Regarding that thuja…oh, the hoops we gardeners leap through!

    JD Pence – So hot and humid here right now that I’m practically counting down the days to winter!

    Terry – Thanks for the fireplace-cooking vote. Stay cool!

    badger gardener – I’ve read that when the “modern” stove replaced open-hearth cooking, no one claimed the food tasted better. Because it didn’t. The stove was simply more convenient.

    renee barry – My experience is the opposite of yours. Here, there is an abundance of rabbits. And I can’t complain. They are cute, and they cause no harm on my property. The rabbits and woodchucks spend their time eating the plethora of white clover which grows in my so-called lawn. The number of squirrels here is the same as always — lots!

    I wonder if the rabbits and squirrels in St. Louis and the other areas you mentioned are being poisoned by chemical herbicide use. Or, perhaps their populations are being killed off by predators, which include roaming cats. I think the rabbit population can be cyclical, too. What are your thoughts?

  14. James A. Sterling says:

    May I chuckle a tad at 95 ‘frickin’ degrees with humidity??? We’d take that in a second up here in north Texas. Try growing much of anything in 105-110 degrees with high wind and no rain…… Last year we had 100 consecutive days of over 100 degrees. It’s all relative….

  15. Hot and humid in VA! Fortunately some cooler weather is heading our way tomorrow and maybe even some rain. Yea!! So enjoyed the winter pictures. They were surprisingly cooling. I would love to learn more about fireplace cooking, though like another commenter, my fireplace has an insert. My husband sometimes cooks in our outside fire pit. I have a sun oven that I need to learn to cook with this summer. Enjoy your posts!

  16. Grazyna says:

    It’s very comfortable 76 with a nice breeze. I love Downeast Maine. The pictures are so cool. Thanks.

  17. Scalding 104 degrees for the 4th day and NO rain for over a month here in Michigan. Worrying about the well running dry but still keep watering our gardens. Thankfully we have electricity and air conditioning unlike so many others. Pets are safe indoors but wildlife is suffering. Three newly hatched baby birds were dropped into the pool apparently by the parents as they must not have been able to survive. We mist our various birdhouses with the hose for relief. Squirrels are dragging their bellies on the grass. We water during the heat of the day just to cool plants and supplement birdbaths for those larger animals who can’t get close, such as the crows, etc. Yet we are still thankful that it’s not worse like the fires in Colorado and floods in England…yet we pray for relief.

  18. Thank you for the Newsletter. I look forward to it every Sunday. I live in Virginia and right before that wind storm hit the temperature was 102 at eight o’ I grew up in Winston-Salem, NC and have witnessed the fireplace cooking in Old Salem, a restored Moravian village. I will be looking for your instructions and recipes in October. Loved your cooling pictures.

  19. James – I know that many folks are far worse off than me. Hoping you get some relief soon.

    Laurel – Thanks for the heads-up regarding fireplace cooking. Hope you get the rain that’s been forecast. We need moisture here, too.

    Grazyna – I need to visit Maine again!

    Jeanne Illenye – High heat — especially when combined with drought — is really hard on wildlife. Thank you for trying to bring relief to the birds who visit your property.

  20. Penster47 says:

    It’s 95 degrees here in southwest Missouri at 9 am!!!! And it was 95 degrees last night at 10 pm!!! This weather is crazy, Mo is usually very humid, the other day it was over a 100 and we had 0 humidity. I don’t remember Mo ever having 0 humidity and I’m 65 years old.

  21. I love getting your Newsletters – it’s been in the 100’s for two weeks, then down to the 90’s for couple weeks – now rain and thundershowers which we desperately needed here in the Denver area. My two lady chickens aren’t too sure however – they don’t have enough sense to go back in the nice dry coop during the rain. LOL At least we don’t have the awful humidity here. Would love to have an OLD home (with the necessary FUNDS for caring for it.).

  22. Kimberly Marino says:

    Very nice pics! Here in Wisconsin it has been in the 100’s for the past week, with one day a record high of 108, Geez i thought i was in Wisconsin?

  23. It will be mid-nineties in the Sierra foothills of Grass Valley, CA today. No humidity, so it’s easier to live with than Eastern heat. Loved the snow pictures. We get some snow here but just a few inches at a time, Dec-Mar.

  24. Denise in Colorado says:

    We had just survived 100+ heat and wildfires last week, and no water for my gardens while we were evacuated, but the plants survived! Now we are getting cooerl days and nightly rains! It is 52 degrees this morning… Crazy Colorado!

  25. 68 here in western VT just after 10 AM Sunday. This whole heat wave has missed us entirely, thank goodness.

    Squirrels wax and wane depending on the nut crop of the trees. Trees in an entire region, somewhat weirdly, appear to coordinate their nut production. Every few years, there’ll be what’s called a “mast” year when they produce huge numbers of nuts, way more than usual. The squirrels flourish and multiply like crazy with all that food. The next year, the crafty trees hardly drop any nuts at all, and that overpopulation of squirrels is up the creek, so to speak, many die, and many others leave the area in search of food. If you’ve ever wondered why some years you see many more road-killed squirrels than others, it’s one of those years.

    Given their primary diet of tree nuts, it’s unlikely squirrels are greatly affected by pesticides.

    Open fire cooking– in between fireplaces and modern stoves came woodstoves. Somewhere I have a letter my grandmother wrote as a teenager growing up on a subsistence farm in the Pennsylvania mountains listing the different kinds of wood to burn for different kinds of cooking– long, slow-burning wood for stews, hotter, faster-burning for roasts and pies, etc. Wish I could find it.

  26. 98-106 and drought here in south central Missouri. Everything crunches under foot. At least no fires near us and we have ac. Desperate for rain. We provide constant water for birds and wildlife…and keep our own animals safe. But, everyone is suffering across the country. Safe wishes and sympathy to all near wildfires. Bring on Autumn! The snow pics were refreshing.

  27. Jingles says:

    Anyone who enjoys this blast-furnace weather is welcome to my share. I’ll happily take your frosty fall mornings and snowy days of winter. Thank you for your gorgeous snowy photos — even the fire in the fireplace looked welcoming.

  28. Monster Girl says:

    Yes, your icy pictures actually helped a bit, appreciate. I’m NOT a summer person AT ALL. And YES I would LOVE to learn fireplace cookery; I actually have a fireplace and the power does occasionally fail. Thanks for your newsletter, I look forward to it.

  29. I’m a middle of the road gal myself. Love Sping and Fall. Winter and Summer can be too extreme. In my next life….I’ll live in California (or anywhere that stays a constant 70-80 degrees) !!
    Yes vote for the fireplace cooking. We have a fireplace insert. We can enjoy the flames of the fire during waking hours or stoke it up and close the doors at night. It really saves on the heat bill !!

  30. Janet Ortega says:

    I very much enjoyed your cold photos! I’m in AZ and although we aren’t the hottest place by far in AZ, it’s still hot no matter what! We reached 104 deg yesterday and that’s just a spring day in Phoenix. I’m originally from northwest New Jersey and love the old houses and the cold weather as well. We still get cold weather here but with a lot of wind and snow maybe once a season, usually melting by noon. Although I don’t have a fireplace, I would still love to see your hearth recipes. Can you cook them on top of a pellet stove which I am contemplating getting?

  31. Julia Hofley says:

    97 degrees yesterday in the Metro Detroit area and today a cool and balmy 85. Woohoo!!!

    The scent of my 7′ tall Lilium ‘Holland Beauty’ was so intense that it made our 1 acre yard smell like we were in an elevator with a lady with too much perfume on! The heat seemed to intensify the scent. Perhaps because of the accelerated blooming cycle with this heatwave this year, so many flowers are blooming together that are normally much more staggered. I think the lilies are exuding their fragrance even more intoxicatingly because of the competition with all the other more flowers blooming simultaneously and the competition is fierce to attract the pollinators.
    The scent here at the garden of Hawk Hill is like a romantic southern night. Only it’s Detroit area!

    The winter shots are fab and your home and garden are really lovely Kevin!

  32. Thanks so much for the cool breeze. It’s 98 here and feels like 101.

    My Farm Vic is smaller than yours and on a town lot, but love the old houses. Your home is just gorgeous–wish I had your outbuildings. I love watching your gardens and the recipes you share. I’ve just returned to gardening and trying new things so your information and knowledge certainly are interesting ideas as to what I can do with things,

    I certainly do enjoy your site!

  33. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for the cool shots! It was 102 yesterday down here in North Carolina…I’m staying in today in the AC!!

  34. Kevin I really enjoy your writing. I especially liked how you commented on your Venus wearing a “frosty white ermine and a matching pillbox hat”. I remember loving to see those weasels both in Michigan’s UP where I grew up (so nice and cold) and in Utah either peeking out of a woodpile or jumping through snow with a mouse in their mouth. Once I worked on a bike trail in Wisconsin and I saw one carrying a young rabbit which was so much bigger than itself and it did NOT want to drop that rabbit. Must have had young ones to feed. Now, we live in southern WA where the power was off for 4 days this winter with a terrible ice storm. We heat by wood so have a woodstove but not a fireplace but would like to read about that fireplace cooking anyway. Also, have many times tried to save my fruit trees and others with the knocking off of snow method you describe. Had so many trees snap off their tops in this last ice storm. Their tops were bending to the ground. It is amazing that some did snap back.

    I am trying your newspaper mulch method for weed control in my raspberry and blueberry garden. Sure hope it works to cut down on the continuous weeding.

    Thanks for the great reading and it is starting to get hot here but has in the near past been only in the 60’s! ha Being from northern MI, I do like cool weather better than hot!

  35. christine hurd says:

    Summer in Oregon usually starts around July 5th for warm weather and lasts until the end of October. We are just now enjoying our second week of sunny days!!

    We had a mild, but long, grey, and rainy winter. Not much of a frost this year.

  36. 105 in indy.

  37. Marjie Geiger says:

    It’s a little cooler in PA today…low 90s instead of 100 degrees…breezy and less humid, too.

    Enjoyed your winter photos…the kale info…the quiche recipe and would love to read more about fireplace cooking.

  38. I’d also love to hear about fireplace cooking!

  39. Kevin,
    It’s 100 degrees right now in southern KY. We’ve had over 100 for many days now and our crops are pitiful. By the way, yes, the evil Monsanto corn is pitiful, too! Ha ha!
    Thank you for the snow pictures; they helped.

    I enjoy your site and your writing. My home is 160 years old, a family home, and so I do understand your renovation trials. My favorites are your garden and recipe columns. I have learned a lot from you! I’m intrigued by the recipes for making cheeses. My grandmother and mother made cottage cheese and I miss it. Also, summer is our time for homemade mayonnaise for the tomato sandwiches! You, too?

  40. Suzanne K says:


    I love the cool pictures! I don’t particularly miss the snow (I grew up in it, shoveled, shoveled, shoveled, froze, drove on ice….), but it sure is nice to look at today. I can’t grump too much about our weather, we’ve had wonderful June gloom and pleasant temps until the last few days. Now we’re heading up to high 90’s, but compared to most of the country, not too bad!

  41. The old saying “90* in the shade” will need to be upgraded a good bit! It’s been hovering at 100* in the shade for several days now here in western Ohio. Our 150 year old farmhouse is, however, air conditioned as of a few years ago when we replaced the old oil burner with a dual-pump system and just in time. Cooking on the woodstove or over a fireplace is an art in itself. We are fortunate to be so in love with our lives…

  42. Noelle Imparato says:

    You have a beautiful house Kevin. Nice cooling photos indeed. Thanks. Here in Baltimore we had 111 degree yesterday. A tiny better today. And will be better tomorrow. Humidity is low though which makes the whole difference. But you know Kevin for your Writing Room you could buy yourself a portable AC unit. We got one last year from Home Depot. Only a few hundred dollars and it cools one big room very nicely. It stands on the floor but has a tube that needs to be evacuated by a window. It’s not what you might call ‘elegant’ but the one we got had a fairly decent look, a clean shape with rounded edges and a nice light metallic grey color. You might want to check it out.

  43. Well, here south of Melbourne, Australia, it is the middle of winter.nno snow for us but cold and wet and grey. Have had only one sunny day in the last three weeks 🙁 I hear you have had a heat wave over in the US, hope it cools off for you soon. Olive

  44. G’day, here in Toowoomba, Qld., it is ‘winter’, no snow, but temp. about 5 deg. c. at night and 15 deg. c. during the day! So, lettuce and parsley doing well as well as the beet and the purple carrots still in the ground!

  45. Hi Kevin!
    I used to hate Atlanta’s humid summers, but that was far better than the dry heat we’ve had the past few years. We’ve had three straight weeks in the 100s and three days of 110+ and NO rain! My garden looks like it’s been torched. The only thing thriving is the rosemary and thyme.

    I love your website!

  46. James A. Sterling says:

    @Gladys – you’re talking my language! As long as we’re dreaming….give me Spring and Fall all year long!

  47. We broke a record yesterday in Raleigh, NC. 106. plus humidity. God bless those who work outside. Especially those who keep the power on so my AC keeps pumping.

  48. Kevin,

    Love the pictures, you have a gorgeous home…sometimes I really wish I could play in snow again! I live in San Antonio, Texas. These past couple weeks, we have had temps in the 100’s every day… day 110 degrees the rest somewhere around 107, 105, 108, we actually dropped down to a breezy 101! It will pretty much stay this way until sometime in October or November…this morning though, we actually had some rain drops, but not many…just enough to make the roads wet and enough for many accidents to take place on the expressways. I sure am glad I work inside! It’s cloudy and 90 degrees and it isn’t even 10:00 a.m. yet! It’s zone 9 for me and we are already under water restrictions! I’m going to print your pictures and hang them up to remind me to think cool thoughts! my best

  49. SandraG says:

    Beautiful! Very welcome sight for the 100+ degrees in Texas. Makes me want some snow ice cream. Yum.

  50. Hi Kevin,
    In Las Vegas, NV, it will be 110+ for the next three days, but we’ve got very low humidity, so it’s very tolerable. You still have to stay well-hydrated though.

  51. thanks for the cool-down!! your pics really worked. also loved getting the perspective on your house (already had an idea on your gardens). only in the 90s here in western north carolina, but the humidity makes it feel hotter. and folks come here to escape the heat…
    love your newsletter! my chive blossom vinegar turned out great and i gave a bunch as gifts. keep up the good work!! and thanks.

  52. The heat in VA has been unbearable! When the temps go above 100 degrees, no amount of rain seems to be enough. While I love my garden and growing my own food, I’m partial to winter, which is comparatively mild for us. I actually sell fireplaces so I’d love an article on cooking in a fireplace!

    We have a wood cook stove in the garage at our house, so the occasional winter power outage doesn’t bother us too much, except that the well pump doesn’t work without electricity so after a hearty breakfast cooked on the stove, it’s time to leave the country and head for work in town!

  53. I absolutely love your home. Can hardly wait till October for the Open Hearth Cooking.

  54. I found your missing rabbits…they are all here in Australia….they are back to plague proportions again north of Melbourne…gosh our place looked like yours for two days last week with the biggest frosts…froze the dams never mind the horse troughs …darn cold…maybe head down this way for a visit Kevin next year when you are in winter and we are in summer…check out the Daylesford Victoria Australia area and come for a visit…love to have you stay for a holiday. Thanks for all your inspiration…

  55. Bonjour from Arizona!

    Very interesting read from your readers.

    We returned from the East Coas t(New Hampshire /Maine) last night.
    Left 109 degrees behind and craved anything below 100 degrees, and green trees, we were near the water so it was pleasant.

    July/August is monsoon season in Arizona with lightning storms. dust storms, and hopefully rain – flash floods are common in some areas, the desert soil is so dry it can’t absorb the rain fast enough.
    Casa Grande had 1/2 inch of rain when we were away (it’s a big deal for us) we had another storm last night and it is raining again this morning.
    Temperature is now 73 degrees…….humidity is 78 degrees.

    I picked some limes from my Mexican Lime tree, made myself a cool Margarita and am cooling off scrolling up and down enjoying your refreshing photos.

    Absolutely would love to learn about open-hearth cooking.

    Comme toujours merci.

  56. KD.Mohammad says:

    Oh Kevin!!! It is just beautiful I could almost smell the snow and smoke from the fire. I live in Aiken,SC and it’s perfect year round. Never too hot or cold and rarely snows for long. This winter if you hear noise in the atic it’s me enjoying the winter at your home 🙂

  57. Denali Girl says:

    Love the shot of the house – it looks so peaceful!

    I am in Anchorage Alaska and we are on the brink of the coldest July on record. That follows a record breaking snowfall when it seemed like I was driving thru canyons of snow. The snow dumps still have “mountains” of snow and the Chugach Range, the Mountains that make the eastern boundry of our city, still have valleys of snow!

    I will take this over hot and humid any day! 🙂

  58. Roberta Adams says:

    Kevin-yes I am interested in learning about fireplace cooking/wood fire cooking. I love your website!

  59. I feel cooler already !!!!Thanks!!!LOL

  60. Very thoughtful of you to engage our imaginations with your winter weather photos and help us to travel mentally out of our over heated environments. Still really hot and uncomfortable in northern NY.

    In 1998 we had a devastating ice storm where I live, lost electricity for days, and survived in our home thanks to an old fashioned fire place. Slept on the floor in front of it and cooked in it with a cast iron dutch oven. I’ve been wanting to learn more about fireplace cooking ever since, so I look forward to what I know will be an excellent tutorial. Thanks!

  61. Naomi Shelton says:

    This is the first I’ve really explored your site and I’m afraid I’m in danger of spending days and days ignoring all my other tasks! It has been so unrelentingly hot and dry here in Michigan this summer that I haven’t been able to work outside nearly as much as I’d like. I just wilt in the heat and humidity. So lots of things are on hold right now. Those winter images you posted were certainly refreshing, though! And what a beautiful, beautiful and interesting house you have! I look forward to enjoying much more of your information and sense of humor. Thanks!

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