Rendered Fat Content


Charles Angrand: End of the Harvest (c.1892–1905)

"Nostalgia omits many details …"

As August draws near, the annual counterpoint to deepest, darkest Winter emerges, its opposite to polar, Blistering weather. It, like most opposites, produces a remarkably similar result to its mirror: doors and windows shut tight against the outside, a kind of hibernating happening in. By eight in the morning, it's become uncomfortable out there. We've already drawn the shades and turned up the air conditioning, and set the box fans blowing. The overnight low came just before sunrise and barely fell below eighty degrees Fahrenheit, 26C. It's Blistering.

I set sprinklers in darkness, running them until an hour after sunrise, when evaporation renders them wasteful.
Even then, a passerby might notice how I'm overshooting the front bed to throw water on the street and look up at The Villa, disgusted with its owner. I'd carefully calculated that overshoot, though, to ensure the whole parking strip received water. That observer couldn't have known. If I don't overshoot, I leave a third of that bed unwatered, which in Blistering weather, quickly translates into dead. The Marionberry vines look sunburnt. Apricots turn to jam on the high tree branches before falling to the ground with tremendous splats. The ground beneath, under continual bombardment and littered with casualties. I move the bodies to the composter.

Progress on the repainting project stalls. I contemplated returning the scaffolding but imagined that I might manage a stolen hour or two before the sun became too scorching each morning, but that hasn't happened. An anticipation limits engagement even before the threatening sun arrives, a sympathetic cowering, a respect for a force that respects nothing. I will not stand in opposition to this intrusion for a second, for I acknowledge its dominion. This is the sun's season, and I'm a humbled denizen. I know my place and set my pace accordingly. It might just as well be raining for all the progress I seem to be making. I tell myself that I'll be hitting the ground running once this heat spell breaks. I tell myself that now is the time to read and contemplate, not for engagement.

Gratefully, this summer we've yet to see any fires up in the National Forest land. In past years, like last year, a couple of enormous blazes threw smoke into our faces through July and August. Then, the air seemed dangerous and provided just that much more incentive to simply stay inside, to hide from the Blistering. I wrestle with my No TV During Daylight Hours Rule, and consider maybe escaping into a movie, perhaps some Christmasy thing, but I cannot bring myself to turn it on. Something inside seems to want me more present than watching television allows. It wants me to actually inhabit this inhospitable place, perhaps to enhance my appreciation of what happens after this weather breaks. And this weather, too, will break. It was long anticipated, like I sensed Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire approaching as December unfolded before me. I could easily foresee this scene before me before it came, but I never seem to sense how it will actually feel. Nostalgia omits many details only presence can ever sense. I feel immersed now within this Blistering season.


Just Visiting
I think it interesting how I seem to believe that I can successful hide from whatever's happening outside, be that excessive heat or stunning cold. I love this valley, partly because it can be a place of such stark contrasts, yin
and yang, with genuine decency interspersed. Some climates never give anyone a break. It's always something threatening there. Here, threats seem rare, extremely seasonal and even more extremely brief. We are served small plates of extremes and buffets overflowing with platters of in-betweens. Spring arrives early and redemptive. Autumns linger and seduce. Blistering as well as freezing weather serve as mere reminders that we are not really masters of this place, but its beneficiaries. I suppose we need to be seasonally reminded just how fragile is our tenancy, how temporary our apparent dominion. Like with my writing, probably like with everything, something superior's in charge and I'm Just Visiting.

I began my writing week reflecting upon what I called my
SacredDuty."We have not forgotten, we never forget, that we're up to something damned sacred here, so we never stop striving. We will not ever forget."

I next suggested the frequent beneficence of unintended consequences, of
Unintentionals. "Might just as well embrace the inevitable."

I have long avoided writing down instructions for how to replicate what I make in the kitchen, since I generally don't follow or leave behind any kind of
Recipe. This story proved most popular this period. "This Recipe, then, turns out to have been a sort of scavenger hunt, a serial synchronicity, an unlikely emergent causal chain, a full body and soul engagement."

I next considered the modifier "just", as in "just" a
Failure. "My shortcomings seem so much a part of me now that I cannot readily imagine myself without my Failures, without my errors. I'm not "just" a Failure, just like I'm not "just" successful."

I nicked a finger with a sharp chef's knife and slipped back into an insecure child in
Reverting. "My skin seems remarkably thin. I am a parody of resilience."

I railed a bit about the
StrongLeader meme, which seems so self-destructive. "Is it just me, or can anybody recall a StrongLeader who didn't ultimately become a Shakespearian-quality tragic figure?"

I ended my writing week gratefully accepting a dose of
Absolution, from, of all people, my dentist. "I expected a Spanish Inquisition, a combination of displeased fifth grade teacher and Torquemada greeting my return. Instead I received Absolution. I can breathe again!"

This writing week attracted the fewest readers in memory. I imagine that everybody's escaped to the beach or the high mountains to avoid the Blistering weather and enjoying a social media break. My writing was never really dependent upon a steadily growing audience of attentive readers. It's not that I'm indifferent to my readers' presence. It's more that my production has never been continent upon an audience. I consider your presence to be just as happy an accident here as mine. None of any of this was ever contrived to seduce anyone into participating. My wellbeing remains purposefully unaffected by anything anyone else might be doing. That said, this week's writing seemed especially inspired. Maybe it was the Blistering weather concentrating creative juices or perhaps it was evidence of some SacredDuty calling or the result of good old dependable Unintentionals. I know no Recipe to follow other than to try to feature my Failure. I frequently catch myself Reverting , though I usually spring right back or forward. I never wanted to become a StrongLeader of anything or to follow one. I much prefer stronger followers. May your week offer you whatever Absolution you sought, like mine did. Thank you for following along beside me here.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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