It’s that time of year when day-to-day schedules aren’t always predictable, so we’re going to have choices for June, July, and August. Reflection, however, is always timely. With that in mind, here are the three topics:
- HEAT….just the word: respond!
- Final reflections on The Angled Road.
- Take a gander at this Guiseppe Arcimboldo painting, entitled “Summer”. Respond!
She grew up outside of Philadelphia and as May morphed into June and the school year drew to a close Ella welcomed the humid heat of the classroom. Today’s heat and humidity stuck her tee shirt to her back. Wonderful! It meant that summer was right around the corner and she would finally see the end of Miss Jones and the boredom of third grade.
Summer’s heat meant that her mother would drop her off at the pool where she would spend wonderful lazy days with Kathy and Janis playing games in and out of the water to stay cool and watching her blond hair slowly change color until by the time September rolled around it would be a dull chlorine-green. Ella gazed out the schoolroom window imagining herself with Kathy and Janis in the shade under the trees by the shallow baby pool eating their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made delightfully soggy by the heat. She couldn’t wait.
After lunch as Miss Jones droned on about the times table Ella’s attention was riveted by the sudden change in the sky. Dark, ominous clouds flew across the window and the leaves on the maple tree outside the classroom window shivered as gusts of wind warned of a coming storm.
The nines table was forgotten by the children as a summer tropical storm dashed rain hard against the windows. The maple tree disappeared behind thundering sheets of water cascading down the window panes. And then, just as suddenly as it had begun, the storm was over, the maple tree reappeared and a tentative sunbeam peeked from behind a lingering cloud.
But something had changed. The heat was gone with the storm and the crisp cool of a late spring day had returned. “Ella!” said Miss Jones firmly breaking her reverie. What is five times eight?
Delicious summer heat and days at the pool would have to wait. “But at least next year I’ll be in fourth grade,” thought Ella. And there was comfort in that.
Chapter I Watching
It was the hottest she’d ever been. She went into the aquamarine up to her neck, backing
into the water, her heels sinking first into the fine sand as she watched the figures on the
beach grow more and more distant and less and less distinct. Charlie was there on the
beach somewhere. He was watching Lily. Putting sunscreen on her baby skin, great
globs of it—more than she would—making a game of the banana smelling goop.
Except she didn’t see them as exactly as she wished. More like silhouettes on the beach–
dark ones, whitish ones dissolving as the film recedes and the wavy mirage hovers in the
Yesterday was like today. They’d taken the baby to the Falls, a tourist trap. Sunburned
white people hooted and screamed. She’d slipped on the rocks and cut herself. “No
problem,” she said and meant it. Then again at dinner, when there was a mix-up and the
waiter brought shrimp, not what she had ordered, and what would, if she had eaten it,
close off her airway—“No problem,” she’d said.
“I don’t understand you,” Charlie said. Lily was playing with the roly poly pasta and
popping it into her mouth. Because the child was beautiful the other diners looked their
way and smiled with indulgence and forgiveness. Or so it seemed to Renee, Lily’s mother.
In French there is a phrase that conveys that a matter is of no consequence. The matter
is trivial. It is to be forgotten. Expressed as an algebraic formula both sides would be
“And I don’t understand you,” Renee said. Her fork skidded alongside the plate and
made a screeching sound.
Lily opened her mouth, scrunched her forehead and raised her spoon in the air. Renee
grabbed the spoon, pretended to be a friendly monster and Lily went back to playing
with the fusilli.
Charlie smiled. “You’re a natural,” he said. And Renee would have to agree because
she does know how to anticipate Lily’s every gradation of baby emotion.
She’s watching the shore again. She’s wet through and through and weighted down with
the heaviness of heat and water. She moves from the dog paddle to walking, raising each
thigh above the level of water. She’s not making enough progress. Her breathing peaks
She makes the child out on the sand. Lily’s toddler bottom is in the air. She’s an inverted
triangle over her shovel and pail, fascinated, riveted by her own efforts. She’s safe.
But Charlie is gone.
“Lily,” Renee says. “Where is PaPa?”
How to Walk in Hot Sand
My personal preference: wear socks to and from beach
Downside: looks dorky; sand collects in socks
Tried and rejected by me, but still widely used:
-dip feet thoroughly in water and run all the way up
-thrust feet deep to cool sand with each step
-run or walk until feet are unbearably hot, then stand on towel until they cool down. Repeat.
-endure pain until boards and skitter up boards as lightly as possible
-wait until sun goes lower
-shoes (worst! So much sand! So not cool!)
-sandals (2nd worst—they flip hot sand all around!)
-walk in footsteps of the person ahead of you
Downside: first person screwed. Worth trying alternating, like bikes or geese.
Possible, but untried:
-Use Super Soaker to spray the sand ahead of you as you go
-tow rope/boogie board combo
How to Be a Bad-Ass Blogger
I will answer all three questions in three sentences (not counting this one). Guiseppe Arcimboldo was a late-Renaissance artist from the school of Mannerism, which sought to express the connection between humans and nature, and this self-portrait does; the fresh and ripe fruits and vegetables form the face of the artist and the colors most certainly reflect the hot and sunny summers in Milan, Italy (which averages in the 80°F range). Arcimboldo, however, got quite a bit of heat from other artists at the time, as they feared he was mocking the portraiture style of the Renaissance painters. On another note, last night I finished the final editing notes for our next version of The Angled Road, and I am ready to send them off to our design guy after one more check, so the heat is almost off of me!