August 24th, 2008

caillebotte_man at his window

(no subject)

I remember childhood days that were, as today is, the epitome of summer, when the heated air was still and oppressive even in the shade of the eucalyptus groves, when the small creek at the base of the hills ran sluggishly, and gnats and midges whirled through bits of sunlight glinting off the dark water. But in the hills blackberries grew, and wild fennel, and there was one cliff covered with honeysuckle, and in another place we could pick ripe loquats.

Even if we had no money to spend on cold drinks or Popsicles at the corner grocery store (a small room cooled only by one electric fan and by the overflow of chilled air from its freezers— the proprietor would shout at us to close them if we stood to long in their icy draft), we could brave the heat to seek out the sun's rewards and stored rain, picking the berries carefully from amid the thorny growth, chewing the stems of the fennel's feathery fronds, seeing how far we could spit the slick seeds of the loquats, drawing the stamens through the honeysuckle blossoms to capture the bit of nectar that would cling to the ends.

Today, vapor tries to become clouds, but produces mere ghosts of clouds— diaphanous puffs of whiteness shot with blue that appear and vanish, only to form briefly in some other part of the sky. There must be little breeze even at their altitude, as they barely move during their abbreviated presence. I watch them as they form and dissolve like the minutes counting down to evening. Though my back yard is without ripe fruits or sweet plants, the memory of the vanished world brings the day a charm that moderates its fierceness.

Suddenly, I'm distracted by some blue jays squawking nearby. They alone show any energy in the face of this heat. The shade of the roof has reached the small clay bowl under the lilac bush where I put water for the birds. I turn the hose on and refill the bowl, letting the stale water spill out as the fresh, cool water displaces it. When I return to my chair on the porch, one of the jays flies down to drink. The fluttering of the bird's wings sounds almost like a breeze.

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