So the cat comes home with nettles buried in her fur, and I pet her and get little stings in my hand. Another peril of the dry days. Summer's brown decline has brought a fall of oak leaves which now crunch and crumble underfoot as I walk to the mailbox. The metal is hot, and the box as empty as the afternoon sky. Tall, weedy plants have sprung from the flower bed by the driveway, and tiny purple flowers decorate their bluish leaves. They thrive as the lawn fails and develops yellow patches. I will wait for dusk to water it, when the evaporation is lessened by the cooling air. I dreamed of wooden houses with peeling paint and deserted rooms where dust motes drifted and whirled through shafts of late sunlight, and the air smelled of old, dry window sheers. The waking world is almost as desolate, almost as sadly serene.