It’s HOT in my part of Wisconsin, mid-to high 80s most days. The cicadas are going almost non-stop. Days like this always remind me of the midsummer chapter in Wind in the Willows, with cicadas being the Midwestern equivalent of the piper at the gates of dawn. Yesterday was productive despite the heat. In the morning I went to the grocery early, then skinned and pitted, chopped and froze the last of the Georgia peaches from a box Miss Becky bought from the Georgia truck the previous week. Fresh peaches on oatmeal, with toasted pecans and a bit of brown sugar… mmmmm.
Around eleven, when the house was getting too hot for me but not the rest of the family, I walked up to the air-conditioned library, where I added 500 words–many of them fine words–to the WIP. I would have added more, but the library was a bit over-air-conditioned even for me.
(My husband said he wanted that in writing; we do have central air but vastly different internal thermostats and, just as marriage is a decorating compromise, so is it an HVAC compromise.)
On the way home from the library I took a longer route than usual, partly to get my step count up, mostly because the longer route was more shady than the more direct way. The north side of the street had even more shade than the south, where I usually walk, so that’s the sidewalk I took. I was amazed at how much that one tiny change in perspective brought to my afternoon.
For one thing, I saw gardens and porches and little landscape features I’d never noticed before, including two tiny frog-pond birdbaths about the size of the palm of my hand.
For another, I discovered that the house on the northeast corner has an in-ground swimming pool. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 18 years and had no idea there was an in-ground pool three blocks away! The only reason I found it yesterday was that I was glancing through the hedge at a garden undergoing renewal, and noticed movement behind a knee-high white wall–two women whose heads were just visible over the wall, one of them carrying a toddler who was wearing water wings.
In the evening, after the air had “cooled” to 79º, I deadheaded some plants that needed it and pulled a bucketful of purslane, crabgrass, and some other flat weed whose name I keep forgetting. The part of the driveway I can see from the kitchen window is pretty well cared for, but the part I see only when I’m in the car on my way to somewhere else is a bit weedy up close (although you can’t see it from the street for all the hollyhocks).
I’d neglected to apply DEET, so I’d work on one section until the mosquitoes found me, then move about 20 feet down the drive and weed there for a while. Weed and repeat.
After about half an hour of this up-and-down, my eyes started stinging from the perspiration rolling down my forehead, and I gave up. I clipped on my step counter and went for a walk–which was more of an amble–to try to get the step-count up the 3-mile mark. Mosquitoes usually don’t bother me when I’m on the move, so it was pleasant and quiet; too late for the kids to be out, too early for the just-before-bed dog walksers. I reached my goal after three circuits around the block and a couple of passes of the house up the street that has a very pleasant fountain in the front yard.
And then I came inside to a house that actually seemed cool even though the air conditioning had mysteriously kicked off about two minutes after I’d gone outside to weed.
© 2010 Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go