Europeans scoff at air conditioning.

I agree we overuse it. But not only because I’m always cold, the kid perennially hauled out of northern lakes when my lips went blue.

Because you can’t hear anything when you’re locked in the air.

I get that air condition is important for the very young, very old and for those in compromised health.

But limited in none of the above ways, I accept waking up sweaty at 4 a.m. if I can hear the sound of birds through an open bedroom window. If I can hear the cicada symphony at dusk.

When the air is on you can’t hear the neighbor kids running in the sprinkler or anyone mowing their lawn or the guy down the street playing his guitar on his back stoop. The breeze rustling the corn. And how are you supposed to hear the ice cream truck jingling closer? Does any community in America still have an ice cream truck?

Hearing what’s around you is important.

I’ve been trying for a few years now to be a runner. With up and down success.

I got it in my head one recent day to run to music. Because that’s what the cool runners do.

And so, I found a Pandora runner station, popped in some earbuds and took off.

About halfway through, I turned the music off and stowed the earbuds.

Because something was missing.

Why run down a picturesque, wooded Wisconsin path without being able to hear the chipmunks and garter snakes in the surrounding brush? The dragonflies whirring? Mosquitos buzzing at your ear? Your feet pounding hard on the gravel surface? Your breath labored enough to know you’re working?

We miss so much of our rural summers locked in the air.

We miss embracing the heat and humidity that’s worthy of being appreciated for no other reason than it’s the opposite of winter.

And when the windows are closed, when our ears are budded, we miss the season’s natural and community noise.

The rest of this summer, I’m opening the windows. Running music-less.

Fully taking in August.

Before it’s overtaken by September.

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