The first yellow leaves are spiralling onto the grass. One can spot a few clusters of them in the weakest of the tree branches where the sap isn’t quite keeping the leaves supplied with sugars and water, causing the chlorophyl to shut down. Counter-intuitively, the Summer Solstice doesn’t come in the middle of summer, but marks its beginning. Now we are at about the midpoint of the season and already on the decline, though it’s still very hot and will probably continue to be. It’s sort of like being forty. You still have time do a lot of stuff that you’re actually too sensible to do.
Last night I slept with the front door open and the screen door hooked, the radio on low and one light -- if I don’t, the diligent village deputies will stop to try my door to see whether I forgot to lock up, and their fumbling will wake me. Not that I slept much. The temperature didn’t really go down until after 6AM this morning. One of my bigger fans burned out. No fire. Just got hot and stopped. I miss it.
Winter wheat ripened three weeks earlier than usual this year. When I went for gas, the heat created a “dust devil” so big, so clearly defined, and so full of dust that one gas pumper fled inside his vehicle and slammed the doors. He said later he half expected to be lifted off the ground. Tornados are possible here, but not as common as fires. They say all these phenomena -- early crops, air whirls and fires -- are signs of global warming and resistance to the idea is weakening. The huge sky-wide thunderstorms that come in the evening have always been here. That’s what the Thunderpipe Bundle Ceremonies are to guard against. Even so, there have been lightning casualties, mostly hikers or golfers. There was a strike right in town a week or so ago. Took out a tree. If luck is bad, the whole East Front of the Rockies could go up in flames.
The village is very quiet because of the harvest. Even the cafe empties out by nine in the morning. Last year the ranchers were short-handed for truck drivers and I seriously considered whether I could drive one of the massive wheat-hauling trucks that follow the combines until they are full, then travel to the grain elevator. The answer was no, but still -- they seem to spend most of their time waiting, which offers good reading time for ranch wives. And a good excuse to have take-out pizza instead of cooking.
It’s past time to dig up, separate and replant the iris, which I have never done on this property. A few got enough water to bloom this year and I fancy they would be impressive if they weren’t smushed together so tightly. In fact, I haven’t even gotten the daylily border properly weeded, mostly because of ant infestations that run up my arms, but also because early morning is the best time to garden but it’s also the best time to read and the latter wins. And anyway, I like the grass heads waving among the lilies.
I’ve bought a new kind of ant poison -- we’ll see what it will do. They are a proper plague. It seems as though they go in relays -- I get the population of big ones knocked back just in time for a procession of teeny ones to march into the territory. Again I’m finding little flat sun-cooked bat bodies in the yard, victims of Squibbie. No need to worry about rabies from picking them up for disposal. Sunshine kills rabies. Bats eat skeeters, but not enough of them to make watering in the evening a pleasant chore. We're forbidden to water between 10AM and 6PM.
My air conditioner has never been installed and I think about it on these very hot nights, but one problem is that my bedroom windows have no sills, which is what window AC units are meant to hook over. When this house was insulated (by adding a false wall and pouring cancer-promoting vermiculate in the space created), the unskilled labor evidently couldn’t figure out how to reinstall windowframes and sills.
We’re getting up in the dark again -- sunup is at 6AM. I’m still rising -- at least temporarily --somewhere between 4 and 5AM. I thought for a while it would be good to take my blood sugar then and eat a little something, but the evidence is that I can do that just as well at 9AM. Mostly my blood sugar readings stay about 100, which is normal. My next door neighbor came over to make sure I was withstanding the heat (Check on your old folks, don’t be a French fry!) and to tell me that the old lady who “aged out” and went to a nursing home has sold her house to an old man who tends to fall down. If I see him down, I’m to render unspecified aid.
So how does one install a windowsill anyway?
Renee Fleming is singing "Summertime" on the radio in a crystalline, elegant voice. I close my eyes to listen.