Rendered Fat Content


James McNeill Whistler:
Nocturne: Blue and Gold—Southampton Water (1872)

" … revel in the respite my predawn time brings."

In the highest summer, I turn Nocturnal. My usual habit of rising early becomes more than habitual but essential to the simple maintenance of life. Oh, the mornings remain mostly tolerable, at least until around ten, then the day degrades into near unbearable brightness and glare. Working out there becomes essentially impossible, for I will not, under any circumstances, wear either short-sleeved shirts or shorts, due to an unfortunate family history with sunlight. I exclusively wear long sleeves with cuffs buttoned against the sun and my usual long' legged jeans. My only concession to the season will likely be sockless feet. I'm not wearing sandals, either. I will also wear a broad-brimmed hat or one of my many havelocks. I'm as tucked up against the summer sun as any burqa wearer might be against temptation and sin. If I'm working, I'm also wearing gloves.

What do I wear when I go to the beach?
First of all, I do not consent to go to the beach in high summer. Beach visits seem better suited to Fall and Winter, though Spring will also do. Anytime I might get rained on a little and not have to feel concerned about the lack of shade. Stripping largely naked in bright sunlight seems an abominable practice, suitable, perhaps, only for those uninformed of the effects of sunlight on skin. In Summer, especially High Summer, I turn Nocturnal. I hide from the sun through the heat of each day if I can. If I cannot, by sunset, I'm struggling to regulate my body temperature and I feel blinded. I'm also not hungry, for the excessive sunlight leaches something essential out of me. I start recharging my batteries on the back deck as the setting sun casts the whole back of the house into the most welcome and glorious shadow. Then I can stand down against the long day's assault by the damned and damning sunshine.

I fall into a fitful bed through the highest summer. The room's still filled with stagnant heat and I can barely breathe. The Muse sets fans and opens windows, but I've already fallen into a sweaty sleep or suffocated before they've managed to push out much heat. I wake a few short hours later to a world transformed. I feel moved to find a sweatshirt. It's not cold, but definitely cool then. The house seems quietest, long before the sunlight portion of the day begins. The cats follow me down stairs in utter darkness, for I avoid turning on lights lest I somehow manage to damage the magic by so doing. The world feels wrapped in velvet. Somehow, that arid yesterday managed to deposit a sheen of dewfall overnight and my breaths feel moist like swallows of cooling water. The cats snack, then disappear to perform their ablutions under the secure cover of darkness. They'll return for breakfast later, after sunrise has wounded another perfect morning.

Working on refurbishing the garage yesterday, I was reattaching light fixtures in full afternoon sun while wearing my black latex painting gloves, when I received a potent reminder that my nemesis sun was standing nearby, watching. My hands felt as if they were under a magnifying glass held by a belligerent boy, burning his initials into my skin. I persisted but I didn't revel in that work. It was painful! I was reminded why I generally try to finish outside work before ten on any High Summer morning, and to stay tucked up inside until the sun shows clear signs that it's leaving. Even on its way out, it can't help but act obnoxious, shining onto my desktop so brightly that I have to cover my laptop with a pillow to prevent it from melting down beneath that assault. No, in the Highest Summer, I go Nocturnal as a wise defensive move. I cower inside through the highest heat of the day and revel in the respite my predawn time brings.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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