Then I woke up a ten or so, and realized I'd never gotten around to closing the windows, and thus the house had gotten way warmer than it ought to have done. I closed them and then I went back to sleep and didn't wake up again until half past three. Yes, I have a hangover. The house is 84 degrees, but I can't open the windows yet because it's still 89 outside. I'm tempted to turn on the air conditioner and knock it down to 80 or so, but then I'd probably have to keep it on until after midnight, which is about when the outdoor temperature should drop below 80. It is miserable here.
In other words, a night of drinking did not reconcile me to summer's noxiousness. I look at my brown lawns littered with heat-slaughtered oak leaves and think what a dump! Even the cats are moping. If they knew there were other places in the world, I'm sure they'd want to go to one of them, as I, lacking their blissful ignorance, surely do. But I can neither leave nor forget that everything is not heat, so I sit and dream of milder places, and try to chill my fevered brain with thoughts of snow.
Poem in the Matukituki Valley
by James K. Baxter
Some few yards from the hut the standing beeches
Let fall their dead limbs, overgrown
With feathered moss and filigree of bracken.
The rotted wood splits clean and hard
Close-grained to the driven axe; with sound of water
Sibilant falling and high nested birds.
In winter blind with snow; but in full summer
The forest blanket sheds its cloudy pollen
And cloaks a range in undevouring fire.
Remote the land's heart; though the wild scrub cattle
Acclimatized, may learn
Shreds of her purpose, or the taloned kea.
For those who come as I do, half-aware,
Wading the swollen
Matukituki waist-high in snow water,
And stumbling where the mountains throw their dice
Of boulders huge as houses, or the smoking
Cataract flings its arrows on our path -
For us the land is matrix and destroyer,
Resentful, darkly known
By sunset omens, low words heard in branches;
Or where the red deer lift their innocent heads
Snuffing the wind for danger,
And from our footfall's menace bound in terror.
Three emblems of the heart I carry folded
As charms against flood water, sliding shale:
Pale gentian, lily, and bush orchid.
The peaks too have names to suit their whiteness,
Stargazer and Moonraker,
A sailor's language and a mountaineer's.
And those who sleep in close bags fitfully
Besieged by wind in a snowline bivouac —
The carrion parrot with red underwing
Clangs on the roof by night, and daybreak brings
Raincloud on purple ranges, light reflected
Stainless from crumbling glacier, dazzling snow,
Do they not, clay in that unearthly furnace,
Endure the hermit's peace
And mindless ecstasy? Blue-lipped crevasse
And smooth rock chimney straddling — a communion
With what eludes our net — Leviathan
Stirring to ocean birth our inland waters?
Sky's purity; the altar cloth of snow
On deathly summits laid; or avalanche
That shakes the rough moraine with giant laughter;
Snowplume and whirlwind — what are these
But His flawed mirror who gave the mountain strength
And dwells in holy calm, undying freshness?
Therefore we turn, hiding our souls' dullness
From that too blinding glass: turn to the gentle
Dark of our human daydream, child and wife,
Patience of stone and soil, the lawful city
Where man may live, and no wild trespass
Of what's eternal shake his grave of time.