The first day of the spectacular heat was a blessing; finally my feet would be warm for the first time this year. It was definitely humid but a cool drink and a place under the umbrella on the patio always lessens the worst of it and wasn’t it nice that summer had come before spring was officially over. It was warm to sleep but it couldn’t last, summer was officially still over two weeks away. The weatherman said we set a new record and as always noted that, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity!”
The second day of the unusual spring heat was exasperated by the circumstances of a dark figurative cloud hovering in the otherwise cloudless humid hazy blue sky. The disheartening greyness that can attach itself to one small disappointment or difficulty was an attractor that layered up misfortune in mucousy layers of a nacreous black pearl curse. A garnish of insult added to the day’s injury was the goo of solar melted gum stuck to the bottom of my flip-flop followed by a semi- torturous ride home at a very temperate speed. One eye was locked on the road and the other on the gas gauge after discovered (in direct opposition to what I’d been assured) that the single gas station between there and home was NOT open past 9pm. I suddenly didn’t care that my feet were warm…it’s not like I don’t own socks.
The third day dawns just as sluggish and moist as the first two. The humidity is a curtain of haze layered thick and torpid across the yard. The dog refuses to budge from the kitchen floor. Her shroud of thick fur weighs her down and she lays shamelessly splayed out on her back, legs a brazen wishbone in the air. A thin smear of blackened gum residue still clings stubbornly to the bottom of my flip-flop. It collects clumps of dried grass cuttings as I head out into the yard. The laundry hangs limp on the line. Skirting round the edge of the yard I try to stay in the shadow of the trees. That can only get me so far and finally I step out into the open to stand under the misplaced sun.
A hand of dense heated air reaches out to envelop me. The humidity forces my lips open and oozes down my throat. My lungs labour to separate oxygen from liquid and my chest feels pneumonia heavy. The air, the heat, the humidity have a gravity that pushes down with a strangling weight and I slouch across the lawn.
The crabgrass I had come to weed out is almost two feet high at the back of the yard. The mosquitoes are thriving there as well in the unexpected tropical environment. They swarm up from under the ground cover as I sort through the stems. I try to grab more grass then blooms but in the heat it’s hard to raise too much concern about a lily or two. The heavy air is a sedative; languid, I wanted to lie down, close to the damp earth. I can feel that under the grass it was still dew cool even with the sun overhead. The garden dances under that ferocity in shimmering waves of ultra violent not sleepy in the haze but awake and going about its very serious business.
The chokecherry tree has finally bloomed. The racemes give off a delicate scent, baked by the sweltering sun, the aroma is redolent of candy apples as it is drawn in over the palette. The chives are crowned by little fuzzy heads of punk rock purple. The irises are a shameless study in Georgia O’Keeffe imagery and the pines breathe out smoky clouds of pollen with the least bit of encouragement. Everywhere the insects crawl or fly, alighting to taste from one or to bring to another. Clouds of bees, oligolectic or opportunistic, both full of electrostatic charges defy the sun and toil at their love. There in the languid heat there is no black pessimistic pearl for Wednesday’s child but the busy workings of a greater cycle of appetite and instinct, purpose and avidity.
The wind rises and the storm’s precursor trumpets over the lake. The sky darkens as the rain clouds bring an early dusk to the yard. Those flowers that bow heads and close petals to sleep fall into an uneasy slumber thinking that night has come. An apocalyptic sun, a virus plagued sullen red, hangs low on the horizon. Lightning jumps across the sky. The long jagged whips scorn the ground and fling themselves from cloud to cloud. The rain comes and it is blind, lost in the grey green light, and so the sound arrives first rushing across the fields flicking the hard winter wheat with stiff fingers. I race it to the house weaving in between the big fat drops to slip into the mud room just ahead of the deluge. The screen door slams behind me as raindrops hit the concrete patio and explode like over ripe cherry tomatoes.
Though summer still looms with all its possibilities on the horizon, this heat wave has finally broken. The breeze gently pushes the curtains back from the window where the dog and I sit watching the rain come down.