I’m suddenly aware that I’m smiling. I’ve finally made it here, to summer—after such a long winter—and I’ve treated myself to a dip in the pool.
—-Cecilia Kennedy, The Barracuda in the Pool
Mural, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas
Good writing will bring back memories. Flash fiction can artificially extend its length and value that way – by tacking strong memories onto the end of the text itself.
Today’s flash fiction brings back a couple to me (maybe spoilers… maybe read the story first).
One was (maybe 1972) swimming inside the shark netting in the ocean at Fort Sherman (now long gone) on the Atlantic side of the Canal Zone. I remember the taste of salt, the sweltering heat, and the primordial green of the neighboring rain forest. There was a large active crowd in the water and I put on my mask and dipped my face below the surface to take a look. There was a barracuda, a big one, gliding smoothly between the writhing bodies. Minding his own business. He looked so streamlined, so powerful, so prehistoric… like something from another world. I felt embarrassed because I dared contaminate his ocean with my pitiful presence.
The second was… maybe two years later and 500 miles northwest of there, diving into a pool in a country club in Managua. I mistook the shallow end and plunged my face into the rough gunite bottom. It hurt but the worst was when I stood up. A young woman standing in the pool looked at my face and the gore pouring down and let out the most blood curdling movie scream I have heard in my life. I was ultimately fine, the worst wound was the sound of her voice and the terror on her face. That remains after a half century has passed.
There are few things as beautiful as dappled sunlight meandering down through a grove of trees.
Even on the hottest, brightest, summer days an overhead canopy of old trees makes for shade and comfort.
The air is still and hot and innervated with the sounds of cicadas desperately trying to find their mate before they die, too soon. Their song is desperate – they have waited for over a decade in the dark, hard ground and now have only days in the sun. Their abandoned skins, dry and hard on the barks of trees, their gray blue dead bodies, spent, line the concrete paths.
Everyone has a grove of trees that brings back some sort of memory – you should revisit it and walk around. It looks different… the trees grow slowly, but they grow, the weeds are trimmed in a changing shape – like a slow wave. But it also looks the same, as all shaded groves of trees look the same.
I love taking a rest, lying down and looking up through the trees at the sun peeking through from above.
It hit 106 degrees Fahrenheit today (that sounds hotter than 41 Celsius somehow) – a record high for the day. At least it isn’t too dry yet – there are still afternoon thunderstorms popping up here and there. Once the soil become completely desiccated and starts splitting open like an overripe tomato… that’s when things get really bad.
Most of the grass is still green – anything not watered will go brown soon enough. But the spring flowers are all gone. The only color left – the only reliable color in summer Texas heat – are the crape myrtle shrubs/trees. They defiantly keep blooming after everything else has given up all hope.
I braved the heat for a little bike ride and carried my camera. Shot some photos of Crape Myrtle blooms while I took a water break.
The terrible heat continues…. It’s always hot here in the summer, of course, but this is crazy. When I left work today, going out into the parking lot, it literally felt like I was walking into an open oven door.
At any rate, I took this picture a few years ago… it looks cool and relaxing somehow.
Oh, and here’s some music from a band I really like… and you have never heard of. They are called “My Favorite” – I have no idea where I first heard their stuff, but I really liked it. They broke up in 2005, I don’t know anything about what’s happened to their members since. They did have some fans.
It is so hot. I remember talking to people that moved to Dallas from Cleveland. I said, “Summers in Dallas are like winters in Cleveland – you can’t be outside for an extended time. You have to live running from one air-conditioned space to another.”
That understates it. You can, in cold weather, always dress for it, put on layers, preparation. In the heat, naked is as good as it gets, and that isn’t enough.
I am so tired of the droning of the air conditioner – the feeling of artificial, fake, conditioned air against my skin. It is painful, it pricks.
When I was younger I had a muffle furnace in my laboratory. Actually, over a period of years, I had a series of muffle furnaces. A muffle furnace is used to get something, usually a crucible containing some substance you are interested in, very, very hot. They are a little ceramic cave, with squiqqles of electric heating wires running all around. A heavy door swings down over the front, allowing you to lift and peek if you want. This is a door to hell. The inside glows like Hawaiian lava – then it gets even hotter. White hot.
Sometimes, whatever you have in the crucible explodes. A little. This makes the door swing out and a puff of superheated smoke jumps out. The door clangs shut. Any muffle furnace worth its salt will have a stained front, paint smoked by escaping violence from the reactions within.