Rendered Fat Content


Pieter van der Heyden (engraver),
Pieter Bruegel (artist):
The Four Seasons: Summer (1570)

" … as if splooting somewhere in the middle of a frozen food aisle."

I abandon my bed just after midnight, wondering if night cooling has finally rid us of the previous day's heat. These Dogg
edDays of summer exhaust me. The Muse does not complain as I disappear to lie in front of a box fan or into the shadows of a lengthy mid-day nap, replete with disturbing dreams. These dreams further exhaust me, refreshment presently beyond my grasp. I hold my compass heading but make little progress. The Muse asks what I have in mind for dinner and I reply with a distracted, "Nothing," before resuming what I wasn't doing before she asked. Friends flee to the beach where fog and cool breezes bring respite. Here, wheat harvest continues and the air fills with chaff and dust and the scent of diesel engines. A flour mill burned down last weekend in Pendleton, victim of a bad bushing and an inattentive watchman. The initial fire was quickly drenched and a watchman posted to monitor for flareups. The watchman was pulled after a few hours and a couple of hours later, that fire flared and nobody was there to report the incident. By the time the brigade returned, the place had burned into a smoking shell, a total loss. Blame the DoggedDays of August.

August rhymes with exhausted.
The days drag on well past twilight, heat continuing even after the sun disappears into another red horizon. Sailor's delight again, extending back through two months of almost uninterrupted calm. Hardly a breath of wind. Hardly a breath of any kind, other than an acquiescent sigh. My transformation into nocturnal form seems almost complete, though I still feel the need to attempt to maintain regular office hours. Doctors and dentists keep schedules more like Bankers' hours and no longer agree to make house calls for any reason or purpose. I creep to my appointments like a vampire allergic to sunlight, fondly recalling the reassuring night before, after the Villa's core temperature finally found a way to slip ever so slightly beneath seventy degrees, 21C. I'd opened every window wide and pulled the evening inside and breathed a deep sigh. The corrupting sun returned later that morning.

It takes an act of God or of a divided legislature to accomplish anything in this weather. It requires a dogged dedication, of which few seem to maintain much of a stockpile. The farmers, their million dollar harvesters, their few remaining farm workers, and the bees remain busy through this season, the rest seem to have gone dormant. Shoppers move as if on Jupiter, using their shopping carts as walkers, sometimes seen
splooting in the frozen food aisles. Drivers see more glare than road and would just as soon stay home. I'm defending against an existential crisis, a sun spot disrupting my reception. I consider this a dedication test I cannot fail, but one for which I carry little aptitude for passing. I pray that no heavy lifting will be involved. I just feel tired until I lie down with the intention of sleeping. Then, I'm wide awake with my brain blazing, plotting and planning ten thousand things I know full well I'll probably never get around to. There's a point beyond which thinking about planning completely replaces acting, or am I just imagining again?

I hold my faith in my future like most people hold a hot potato, bouncing it between hands, hardly touching it, wanting to set it down somewhere. Who am I, trying to hold a hot potato or faith in any future? Since I'm not a farmer, I'm not called to work through this brutal weather. I'm the neighbor, up writing by the open window at five in the morning when you come struggling down the sidewalk, walking two huskies. I call you The Musher because you seem to be propelled by those huge puppies. You know me as a writer. I know myself as one who does his business under the dubious cover of darkness, hiding from light, renewing his belief in a future which already arrived different than expected, as if splooting somewhere in the middle of a frozen food aisle.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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