HeatWave

HeatWave
Die Kornernte (The Harvesters), Pieter Bruegel der Ältere (Peter Bruegel The Elder), 1565
"I cannot capture these dehydrated days for reconstitution later this year."

The petunias have finally come into their own, thirsty every other day. Those plants not yet convinced that it's actually summer probably won't amount to much this year. The deck fountain loses an inch to evaporation overnight and will need refilling by tomorrow. The yard crunches underfoot, though the grass still looks green. Everything dries from the bottom up, the soil losing moisture faster than does the foliage. I'm on watch, wary of another huge water bill, I become stingy and careful. The air feels so dry that I wake up unable to swallow, my throat desiccated overnight to the texture of dry rubber. The air feels lighter than air. A cloud tries to drop rain, but its moisture can't quite make it to the ground and leaves nothing but a smear along the far horizon. Deer graze through the neighbor's garden, pruning plants they usually avoid. I prefer a shady spot these mornings while the world awakens to face a HeatWave.

By what magic has that winter become summer? I missed the transition.
Was it not just last week that I piled up sheets against overnight frost? Now, a hot wind carries hardly a hint of cool, the few clouds float harmlessly away. It will not rain today, and if the forecast holds true, it might not rain for another fortnight, maybe more. We worry about lightning this time of year, before the already delayed daily afternoon monsoon deluges arrive, for the forest surrounding us has rarely been this dry. One flash and the whole neighborhood could turn itself black, as it periodically used to before developers had the idea for these homes here; before we happened upon this quiet enclave away from the smothering city below.

It will be a full ten degrees cooler up here, negating any necessity for air conditioning. A steady breeze will blow right through the house, enticing the cats to escape out where they might wallow in a decent piece of dirt. Our deck serves as my refuge. On the shady side of the house, I can cower in the shadiest corner and write, or read, or simply dream of greener places. I should have no complaints. I need little supplemental support, not even a blanket overnight, not even a broad-brimmed hat while sitting here in the shade. Still, the day looms oddly threatening. When the full heat arrives, I will find no place anywhere here to hide. I will sit and humbly sweat. I've not yet fully acclimatized.

They've closed the cooling creek for the duration of this damned pandemic. Too many flock there on days like this, blissfully infecting each other, mindless in the cooling stream. The neighbors daughters and son troop over to the pool each afternoon, flip-flops melting to the soles of their feet. I tolerate the heat well for a man my age. I have the basement if it comes to that, but I might catch myself engaging in sweaty work, finding the soaking sweat an effective form of personal refrigeration. A cold shower awaits me if absolutely necessary, a touch of penance for all the mornings spent before winter fireplaces. My eyeglasses turn dark all by themselves as if to tell me to avert my gaze. I cannot capture these dehydrated days for reconstitution later this year.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved








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