Tuesday, June 10, 2008

hunkering through the heat wave

I woke with the mockingbird calling at 5:30, then returned to sleep for two more hours, an incredible luxury, and today a necessity. Though ill-advised, I slept with the window open to the scent of night and morning.

The children slept late. Is there a more beautiful sentence in all of parenthood, in summer, the first week of school vacation?

Yesterday the thermometer registered 91 degrees here on the New England coast. Didn’t the lilacs just stop blooming? June is usually considered “spring,” and just a week ago I scrambled to find turtlenecks, jeans, socks for a high temperature of 56 degrees. Now we are hunkered indoors with the air conditioner while I escape the layer of yellow pollen I can plainly see on my grill, my porch, my car. I want my children to play outside, but I can’t breathe out there, not even here with the ocean breeze blowing inland. Big headache yesterday-- it’s been a long time since the last migraine, long enough that I’d forgotten to note the buzzing in the bridge of my nose before it became something bigger. By dinner I was in bed with hot tea and ginger, and by kid-bedtime I was asleep.

Children woke at nine-thirty, more rested than they’ve been in weeks. Summer days mean the all-kitchen production of a fruit salad, being constructed right now from cantaloupe, watermelon, grapes and bananas. Summer means coloring projects for this few hot-and-pollen-filled days, and then we will return to the usual rituals of beach-going and walks and playgrounds. For now they love being at home, letting time spin out endlessly. By next week they will be using the word “boring” and we’ll be ready to move on. I'm looking at my dull prose here, thinking "boring" is right! But I'm medicated, so...

I ended the grad school quarter “behind” by four book annotations, but I’ve since finished Haven Kimmel’s Used World and am knee-deep in Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life. I’m pursuing a book called Bewildered Travel and I just reread Robert Farrar Capon’s The Supper of the Lamb, which is a vacation unto itself. Next come my summer readings. It’s do-able.

And now the conversation in the kitchen raises a few decibels and Madeleine asks if I’m ready to partake of the lunch buffet. Not satisfied, Brendan marches in to announce that the buffet is open, with a trumpet flourish. Welcome to summer vacation, while it’s still fresh to all of us.

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