Vignettes of a Hot Dry Summer
She likes to sit in the garden in the morning. Sipping coffee and enjoying what brief coolness might be available then. The hummingbirds come to the garden at this time too. Seeking traces of moisture in the blooms, they jealously guard their territory. Chasing intruders away in intricate aerial ballets full of thrusts and parries. They are not willing to share with their brethren, these tiny warriors. As the sun rises higher, she retreats.
He also goes out early each day, but he is tempering his body to accept the heat waves. Frustrated that the rain foretold on his radar doesn’t appear, he doggedly scans the sky for signs. The heat presses harder and the swooping, buzzing, flitting crowd disperses, the beguiling blossoms abandoned in the sun. Even in the brittle heat he is content in his garden.
In spring, the committed cardinal pair chatted eagerly about the nest they tucked into the pear tree. In the summer dryness they share harsh chirps, complaining at the scarcity of food for their hatchlings.
The guests seek shelter under the meager umbrella, pulling in legs and arms at awkward angles to capture the shade. Some find relief in the swimming pool. Others withdraw to the artificial coolness of inside, mostly the women. The men seem to enjoy the challenge of ignoring the heat.
The fist of heat has unclenched today. Open doors and windows inhale the bird song floating in with the cooler air. It is an oasis in the eye of the storm, a brief reminder of softer summers.
The walkways are congested at the farmers market. Everyone arrived early to beat the heat. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Shaded by their umbrellas, this is an easy day for the farmers. Tomorrow will be another dehydrating day in their fields, acting as midwives to the laboring plants. Sadly, no green beans today, the heat has taken another victim.
Boiling storm clouds churn over our heads. The trees thrash in a frenzy of thirst, while the birds huddle in quiet anticipation. Spirals of wind twirl dusty vegetation. Finally, rain! Elation turns to frustration when a sprinkle teases the leaves and the clouds storm off.
The grass may never awake from its self-induced coma; the burly weeds push it aside while it sleeps. The once vivacious hydrangeas offer one last pale blue cluster of blooms before it draws back into its own coma. The roving mint lies down in submission, too thirsty to continue the quest.
There is noise in the swimming pool! Splashing laughter, an abundance of water, in a place where the heat is finally welcomed. Goggle faced young ones crow, “watch me” as they cartwheel into a wobbly, underwater handstand. Noodle wrapped older ones float contentedly on the ripples. The water soothes that ancient need to return to the sea.
He tries to appease the tomato plants with a soaker hose, but they long for rainwater. Still, they try for him. Occasionally presenting a scarlet globe for his delight. Leaving both with a feeling of triumph over sweltering odds.
At night the peepers still pipe but the fireflies don’t have the energy to signal their presents. She sits at the other end of the day in the cooler moonshine, perhaps with a cocktail to toast the night. The cardinal family, asleep in the tree, isn’t disturbed by her noises.
Diana, for the Poplar Grove Muse