Friday, July 22, 2011

Looking for the Door into Winter

One of my favorite books when I was growing up was The Door into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein, which is (more or less) about time travel.  The title comes from one of the habits of the narrator's cat, Pete.  Pete and his human once lived in a house with many external doors.  When Pete wanted to go outside, he would stand in front of a door and meow until Staff opened it.  If the weather was inclement, however, he would refuse to venture out, going instead to the next door and meowing there.  This continued until they had visited all the doors at least once.  The narrator's theory was that Pete thought one of the doors must surely be the door into summer, and he wasn't going to settle for anything less.

Here in the Phoenix area we've been suffering the same high temperatures as the eastern half of the country, although our humidity, thank goodness, is much lower.  Our noontime critter watching has dwindled to almost nothing as all the intelligent birds and beasts indulge in siestas during the hottest part of the day.  One critter still up and about, however, is my cat Rusty.

The day after we moved in with my parents Rusty discovered their screened back porch, an excellent spot from which to plot mayhem on quail and rabbits.  She prefers to go out there several times a day, which is fine with me, except...

...since the temperature hit 100 she's been going out and in and out and in and out and in until one of us gives up in disgust.  Apparently she can't believe it's really that hot out.  Well, neither can I and I'm not wearing a heavy fur coat.  Unlike Heinlein's Pete, she's not convinced that the next door over is the door into summer; instead, she seems to believe that if she glares at me balefully enough I can cool off the porch between one visit and the next.  She's not taking my failure lightly; I can almost see her thinking, "What kind of useless lackey are you?  I'm seriously thinking of trading you in for a model with temperature control and tuna on demand features."

Our new house has a screened back porch, too, and I'm expecting the same rounds of in and out there.  Still, winter is coming in just a few months, and then she'll be complaining that I didn't open the door into summer.

"Then he would stay indoors until hydraulic pressure utterly forced him outside.  When he returned the ice in his pads would sound like little clogs on the wooden floor and he would glare at me and refuse to purr until he had chewed it all out...whereupon he would forgive me until the next time.

"But he never gave up his search for the Door into Summer."

~Robert A. Heinlein, The Door into Summer


  1. We're in the ninety/ninety zone and I remember our years in Phoenix fondly. Our air is unbreathable. That's typical in August, but this year, it's been that way since June 1st. We're steamed limp.

    Loved Heinlein, although his amoralism in some novels now strikes me as louche.

  2. Well, I definitely do better with heat than humidity; I remember those 90/90 days in New York and really feel for you.

    I like Heinlein's juvenile and young adult fiction better than his "mature" works because the writing is tighter and he didn't get quite so carried away with his (definitely mature) fantasies. :0)