July 22nd, 2005


Nocturnal Respite

In bright moonlight, the ponderosas look rimed, almost phosphorescent, lending a frosty feel to the mild night. While the clouds lasted, I listened for thunder in the mountains and watched for lightning flashes, but there were none. Once the clouds had cleared, the street was flooded with light which glinted from every shiny object- mailboxes, television antennae, the ceramic insulators atop the utility poles and the wires slung between them- sparks of silvery light everywhere. Such a sight almost makes up for California's lack of fireflies. The night cooled nicely, too, eventually becoming quite comfortable. The last few gardenias release little scent now, leaving the air smelling fresher than it has in weeks. But the house remained stuffy, so I spent as much time outdoors as I could. I wanted to enjoy it while it remained, because the coming nights will be sultry again. Without a few such breaks as these, I would find summer here unendurable.

Sometime yesterday, my spider returned, but it seems to have come home to die. I noticed a while ago that its legs are no longer extended, but folded under its body, so that it looks like no more than a dark speck on the wall. Nearby, a dead gnat is stuck in the web, uneaten. I wonder if a larger spider will come to eat both tiny cadavers? RIP, little arachnid.


Earlier in the year, each day began with a single bird perched in the mulberry tree outside my window, emitting loud, rapid chirps. Lately, each day has ended with a single bird perched high in a ponderosa, emitting slow chirps which are probably as loud, but diminished by distance. Being nocturnal, I always found the morning bird's cheerful noise irritating. This evening bird's call I find pleasant, if somewhat melancholy. It reminds me of stories with sad, truthful endings that couldn't be improved upon.

Though the clouds did not return today, there was a bit of that haze which, in this climate, accompanies an unaccustomed humidity. I have heard rumors of the weather in Los Angeles. (By rumors, of course I mean television weather reports, but rumors is a more melodramatic word, and I'm in the mood for melodrama rather than dry facts.) The recent vapors by which we have been visited are outliers of a tropical storm system a greater part of which has descended upon the southerly part of the state, bringing considerable mugginess. I remember summers like that. Most years, the summer skies of Southern California are monotonously blue (or brown with smog), but in certain years the storms which usually are confined to the Mexican coast drift farther north, and the result is that Los Angeles' weather takes on an almost Caribbean quality.

I remember one particularly spectacular summer thunderstorm which sped across the city one evening, leaving in its wake flooded streets filled with tattered leaves and fallen branches. In the midst of its passage over my neighborhood, two transformers nearby exploded, minutes apart, one of them a block to the west, from which I saw radiate a light brighter than the sunset. To have seen this brief spectacle was well worth the two-hour power outage which followed. Now I'm a bit envious, knowing that the fortunate denizens of the city could have such an experience this year. Unless one of those tropical storms that is going walkabout manages the rare feat of reaching the northern part of the state, I am far more unlikely than are the Angelinos to get to see such an event. Ah, well. Maybe Oroville will be destroyed by a tornado.

Rare on-line quiz posting:

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That I scored higher than 99% of all the other test takers (of my age and sex) on all three variables suggests to me that either I'm very strange, or the people (of my age and sex) who take tests at that site are an uncommonly dull lot.