Steamy it was, but a good kind of steamy. It’s August now and I didn’t think the “dog days” were coming because suddenly late July was so cool. I read somewhere that dog days don’t refer to hot and muggy days but to the dog-star that rises and sets with the sun. Most people can’t even see stars anymore. But I feel just like a tired dog right now… so for me dogs days are hot and tired days, hot and steamy days, or maybe just a tired, foggy brain.
Dropped to fifty degrees one night and the tomatoes aren’t happy. In the morning they looked rather surprised. Frozen, stultified. One just stopped growing completely. Doesn’t even set out flowers. It was very small from the beginning, but they all were. But this one plant stays very small, yet has a few tomatoes growing right at its wobbly little top. One ripened a couple of weeks ago. I ate it. It’s called Chocolate sprinkles. It didn’t taste like chocolate at all. One plant started yellowing and the leaves got brown but it had about two dozen tomatoes turning orange and then bright yellow. Tiny little things. I came home from work the other day and ate them all.
Suddenly those sharp pangs again. Worse than real pain. Wanting to be alone far away in desolate fields or forest or a deserted Robinson Crusoe kind of beach … a nice beach with tame lake or ocean so I could swim. And no cannibals. Or a farm. A real farm somewhere with real crops growing. Real food. The corn must be getting high now. But the corn may be confused too. It’s been hot and cold then warm. Hot nights, humid nights, and very cold nights. A lot of rain fell and then none. The corn is not happy. There is no real corn in the stores. A farm far away then, where the corn is growing. It’s sweet. You can eat it raw. Yes, I would like to be in the middle of a corn field where the corn is ripening and the sky above is true blue and cumulus clouds are sailing by in the shape of ships and whales and dinosaurs.
The park just now. Intense silence made more silent by the mass shrilling of cicadas but not shrilling. Shrill is a madman or madwoman angry, stupid or confused. This was mad delirium in the park, this was scintillating conversation, the rustling of ten thousand wings of pleasure reminding you they are alive … this was the personification of the steamy warm fogginess of air, the perfumes wafting… Where was it all coming from? I thought it was the Joe Pye weed six or seven feet tall now in lovely rosy masses. I put my face in it but nothing. Then I saw a small low shrub with fluffy cork shaped flowers, and bent down to put my face in them. The shrub was at the edge of the Joe Pye weed growing in a patch of dirt.
That tiny flower was the source of the fragrance and I stayed bent down until I could bend no more…… the whole park smelled like this flower. White, pure, rare, part dried grass from the mowing yesterday, part dirt, part what? Air? Cloud? Heat? The blue sky? All the gasps and whispers, shouts and cries of children playing? The smell of the long-haired blond girls sitting idly on the bench by Mom’s memorial tree? Staring at their tripod looking like a wicked grasshopper…..was it the ball they were kicking so lethargically rolling on the newly mowed lawn, like hooves of thick furred lambs wandering, their padded feet mingling with tiny leaves and grasses, the sun and lingering dew churning them into some new pasture?
It’s foggy because I really don’t see, foggy because I really don’t hear, foggy because I really don’t know… what is that flower? I used to have it in my garden and watched and watched and waited every spring until those frothy cork-like things appeared…and I remembered that smell from almost twenty years ago. The little shrubs are now drowned out by other flowers, shrubs, and trees but somewhere deep down in the earth they are releasing their fragrance still..
No birds out there today, not one. Just the new world cicada symphony playing, screaming, hey daying, shouting, reveling, celebrating this hot and steamy day, and the grasses are expiring, exuding some scent of dying green that turns to summer hay..
What was in that park that for the second day running I can’t explain… Heat. Silence. Cicadas. Order. Disorder. The shearing of the grass… the fog … the grass’s second coming…. Grass perfume grass air grassy fields like green wheat like green seas like green dreams like green beds to finally rest in. Rose colored flowers tall as trees. Black eyed Susans wide as fields.
A hissing steaming bubbling simmering sound like someone making a potion. Something is missing and something will be added. Footsteps that are searching and searching and smelling like an alchemist trying to turn it into gold. A cook looking for that special herb tasting and tasting and not knowing. The receipt is gone. The recipes all gone… ingredients too… .. it’s Richard Harrison singing ” someone left the cake out in the rain…. ohhh noooo…….. and ….I’ll never find the recipe again…ohh noooooo…”
The turning and twirling of things, those old willows that are gone, but maybe the old roots are still churning, maybe the old heart is still burning, the ground about to collapse or shoot up like a geyser, the whole park an upheaval, turned upside down all the flowers of all the past seasons, all their tiny little ghosts smiling shining as they are expiring..
The great alchemy it is ongoing, and the great perfumer too, already knows the day is waning, and even though high summer is just only starting, it is already ending too…. …and these cicadas now that you are hearing and they are singing madly singing wildly singing oh so very loudly, listen and you will hear them screaming screeching madly begging…… oh go on go on already… go go go away….
The river near the bus stop as I was leaving… the water is low and the water is muddy brown and cloudy, long seaweed hairs like mermaids underwater swimming, going far away and never coming back, some things that look like clam shells gleaming, but the river is not a river anymore, full of plastic bags that are shining, fallen golf balls from tired old golfers dying….from vast manicured lawns rolling in and out of the muddy rocks…. and gum wrappers are glinting at the bottom with the other bric a brac while dull and sullen eyes are watching… the last pieces of red and blue neon paints are glaring….
Give me the frosty icicle river with pools of shooting stars, with foam frothing, with whiteness gleaming, with fresh ice flowing, a thousand glinting gold and pink diamonds sparkling, and the water high the trees bare the sky grey and trees like black fingers poking through the air… and the air sharp and clean and bright, like peppermint patties in your child mouth melting….
So the park this noon this high noon as I was walking and the whole screaming cicada sky charging as I stand still as a dead bird like the one in the garage rotting…. where is the sun where is the sun where is the fragrance where oh where oh where is it all coming from?