But I will change the air myself by watering the plants nearest the windows, which are open now that the heat is diminished. The summer stillness will be broken by the sound of trickling water, and the sourgrass, the peach tree, the gardenia bush, and the other plants will be able to gorge themselves on the rare liquid which has been horded from winter by the dams upstream. Some of that water will evaporate in the warm air and its vapor drift into the house, mitigating the dryness and bringing a damp, earthy aroma.
I'm always eager for nightfall in August. It is like a cool drink at the end of a long and exhausting hike, when you collapse on a hillside and gaze back at the path you've come. That's when you remember how good the journey really was, and how worth the discomfort. Here water redeems even the most torrid day and turns its memory sweet.
California Hills In August
by Dana Gioia
I can imagine someone who found
these fields unbearable, who climbed
the hillside in the heat, cursing the dust,
cracking the brittle weeds underfoot,
wishing a few more trees for shade.
An Easterner especially, who would scorn
the meagerness of summer, the dry
twisted shapes of black elm,
scrub oak, and chaparral, a landscape
August has already drained of green.
One who would hurry over the clinging
thistle, foxtail, golden poppy,
knowing everything was just a weed,
unable to conceive that these trees
and sparse brown bushes were alive.
And hate the bright stillness of the noon
without wind, without motion,
the only other living thing
a hawk, hungry for prey, suspended
in the blinding, sunlit blue.
And yet how gentle it seems to someone
raised in a landscape short of rain –
the skyline of a hill broken by no more
trees than one can count, the grass,
the empty sky, the wish for water.