Thursday, June 21, 2012

letter from a late-June heat wave

I want to rush at this letter with arms thrown open: we are well. Our house is so suited to summer. All of our school schedules have ended, for this one week, and we are home, sleeping late, eating meals on a whimsical non-schedule, walking the hallways barefoot and mumbling.

Swimsuits are still draped on the porch railing, though the 90-degree weather surely baked them dry hours ago. We are fine in our un-air-conditioned house, as long as the wind blows. Like now, the trees rustling, the wind moaning over the metal fence posts and rain-spouts, the pipe-organ of the neighborhood playing strange chords high and low.

Yesterday the thermometer stretched to nearly a hundred degrees, and then the wind stopped, mid-afternoon. We packed our kids plus three more, and drove to the beach, fingers crossed for a parking space, for mercy. When we returned home for a late dinner, still no wind, and when we decided to sleep, still no breeze. My son came by to chant, I cannot sleep. My daughter, too, said the birds would not stop singing, and I swear the birds sang all night. (Is it the warmth that signals their singing? Not the light? They sang all night, or I dreamed them singing all night.)

We parents are trained to survive lack of sleep, but children do not recover this way. They are spending the day in bed, with books and music (one of them), or continuing to nap off the swelter.

While I was standing in the icy blue ocean, yesterday, as ever I found myself singing a melody line of thanks, smelling the salt-cucumber scent of summer with Innocence Mission in my head. And again at night on the downstairs couch, under the blessed ceiling fan, a melody of gratitude for all that is, and for rest (or even a half-rest) of birdsong and sweltering heat.

Sometime in the wee small hours of morning, the breeze kicked up again—Scott rose from the second couch, across the room, and left for the bedroom upstairs. I woke late to this quiet.

One child rustles through, now. Scott leaves for errands in the air-conditioned car. A second child wanders by to ask about a box of muffins our houseguests left.

SO MUCH to unpack from these last few weeks, huge events, gatherings of friends and acquaintances, visits with writers and artists. Concerts. Speeches. Ceremonies. And maybe best of all, quiet times sitting with friends, with nothing terribly important to say.

Much more to write, but for now, cool drinks call.  

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