Rendered Fat Content


Utagawa Hiroshige 歌川 広重:
Yoshitsune Awaits Benkei at Gojo Bridge (c. 1840)

“ …leaves drying before turning …”

Summer, above all seasons, seems just to slip away. Once fierce, it tames. Its once dominant sun loses weight. Somebody blows out some of her candles. Even when the thermometer hits eighty, it's a toothless and unconvincing heat. It's just going through the motions with almost another month left where it will be expected to continue fulfilling obligations. The time for frying eggs on sidewalks has already past. Successive cues will continue before this season's gone, but it’s now become an imposter and will not return until next year.

Summer became the scariest season, replacing Winter over recent years.
When the heat becomes excessive, we have no real recourse. When wildfire smoke invades, we have no defense other than to flee to the beach, where onshore winds turn smoke back toward its source. The water slips right through the soil, which demands more every other day, but even its unquenchable thirst seems to start slacking. The days grow shorter, too, the sun arriving noticeably later than just a week before. The dust settles in after harvest, and the scent turns to plums, pears, and peaches. The melons start disappearing, and the Eurasian Stinkbugs finally find my pumpkin vines, which never set fruit but still fought valiantly against the season through the hottest afternoons.

The Fair threatens, the first real celebration of this summer's ending. The Muse As Candidate will be in the parade, walking the distance rather than driving, all the better for greeting and passing out stickers and promo material. I will be carrying the banner declaring who's running, stumbling along. I own no snap-button shirts, cardboard cowboy hats, or boots, for that matter. I will march along in my barefoot shoes, trying to avoid stepping in the mounted units' calling cards. The Booth at the fair looks like solitary confinement from this distance, with each volunteer sentenced to a term of three hours in the Pavillion ventilated only by enormous fans blowing fine fair dust and kettle corn smells. If we survive the next week, we will finally enter campaign season, a time of knocking on doors and leaving one-page brochures and a time to leave petty fears behind. I expect to knock on some MAGA Troll doors and be savaged. It all comes with the end of any season.

The end of naive hoping and an entering of final reckoning. By the end of the following season, one which will not seem to be SlippingAway into something else but continue with established patterns, we will have determined if The Muse As Candidate will have been chosen as The Muse, Port Commissioner Junior Grade. Either way, she insists, she will have won the contest. If the voters reject her bid, she will have gained another thousand friends and a voice grown more influential for her efforts. If the voters accept her bid, her life will get more interesting than she expected a spare year ago when she received her throat cancer diagnosis.

We struggle to recall the precise chapters. Our stories have become jangled in retelling. The decades seem to have been melting together, SlippingAway, too, inexorably. We seem to lose distinctions as we age. Precisions, once stark, dim. Pretensions almost completely fade away. I dress the same way wherever I go, having outgrown my formal wear. Jeans and a Chambray shirt have become my signature wardrobe, and I don't care who notices. As my mother's friends used to say about my long hair hanging down halfway to my butt, "At least he keeps it clean." I remain tidily unkempt, rather like this SlippingAway season, with leaves drying before turning and Iris stalks browning along their edges.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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