96 Degrees

Eight o’clock.

It’s going to be very hot outside today by local standards. This afternoon I will hang out by the air conditioner. On my way to the store I stopped and talked with Harry for a few minutes. He’s 94 years old and still driving his pickup truck to Burger King to meet his friends for a little palaver. His daughter lives around the corner and visits him once a week. Also his son from Salem drives down every month or so to see him. It makes you wonder what is the secret to a long lifespan, unless it’s just heredity, and maybe playing it safe. Discretion is the better part of valor… At the market, Thomas was rather subdued and low key, probably anticipating a hot day. He didn’t talk much, maybe to conserve his energy. The azure sky is beautiful to look at, but today it means a summer scorcher. If there’s a time and a place for everything, then today is good for hunkering down with the air conditioning if you have it. I will kill some time reading my Eiseley book, which I’m beginning to understand better. A naturalist thinks differently from a philosopher or a critic. Generally he describes things rather than analyzing them in order not to do them harm. My brother explained to me that John Muir did the same kind of thing. Nowadays I often speculate what he’s up to. The best way to know is to pick up the phone…



Eleven o’clock.

I feel really good today, despite that the temperature is supposed to reach 93 degrees. The sunshine is very cheerful and I can’t complain about my life. I’ve got beautiful music in my head from Dave Brubeck, a piece called “Strange Meadowlark.” The music takes me back to happy times in the nineties when my parents were still here. And who’s going to judge me for enjoying a little reverie of the past when things were better? Music used to be so much better 30 years ago than today; I think we need a revival of good stuff for our souls. Another song comes up, by Donald Fagen titled “New Frontier,” all about having a big party in a fallout shelter, equipped with the best of everything including Brubeck. If I were still a drinker, then I’d get myself a six pack of Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen and have a little party for one— and invite everybody. It wouldn’t be a sad situation like the poem by E.A. Robinson about Mr Flood. I believe everyone feels a bit like Mr Flood, so we might as well party together. Whatever gets you through the day is fair game, and nothing’s gonna change my world.

To Build a Fan

Seven AM.

I’ve been up since two twenty this morning, and I don’t even know why. So I read parts of my journal and then, at four thirty, reread “To Build a Fire.” One of the ideas foregrounded in it is the wisdom of instinct versus the folly of rational judgment. The man in the story who freezes to death has no connection with the earth. Also he lacks imagination and experience. His dog, on the other hand, has both the ancestry and instinct to know how to survive, even when it’s 75 below zero. These counterparts of man and dog remind me of “The Prussian Officer” by D.H. Lawrence, which describes a contrast of two soldiers, one centered in his head, the other in his body, but each dependent on the other. London’s story was published first, in 1908… After that, I moseyed over to the market and bought some essentials for the day. It’s still painfully early and the sun has hardly cleared the trees on the east side of my street. By this weekend it’s supposed to be in the nineties here, and already the climate makes me feel rather odd, affecting my behavior a certain way. I see Roger outside his house, up with the birds today. There’s not a breath of air outdoors. It’ll be a long haul. When it gets warmer this afternoon I’ll fire up the air conditioner and hang out beside it…


Two ten PM.

The florid sunshine today had me foaming at the mouth, so I got out of the house a few minutes and looked around me. My own street was pretty much inert and deserted, but around the corner a car passed me, and then I saw Randy at his car lot working with the tow truck driver and using his phone. Directly overhead, the blue sky was peppered with sparse lonely clouds, white wisps in the air. People on the ground took little heed of them, instead dragging up Maxwell Road like bats out of hell. To the right of the sidewalk by the store, I noticed a bed of purple flowers that smelled sweet and one or two honeybees for pollination. And of course I saw more people and cars in the lot. When I walked into the building, Deb glanced at me but said nothing. She must’ve thought I was stupid for wearing a hoodie on an 80 degree day. But Cathy helped me out at the register, saving me the 25 cent up-charge for using plastic. No one seemed as drunk from the sun as I felt, sort of like Meursault on the beach before doing something insane. The sun gives its bright orange to the green and blue everywhere, like a sweet dessert you can eat, or a fermented fruit that makes you crazy. Yet somehow I found my way home and gave my dog a chicken jerky treat: my contact with reality.

La Luna del Verano

Quarter after seven.

I have to make two excursions today. Bi Mart doesn’t open until nine o’clock, so I’ll go to the market first. The sky is a white mercurial sheet, something like hot lead. We got through the 97 degree heat yesterday okay. The bedroom stayed quite cool, permitting us to sleep normally. I observed the moon last night: a half moon like a half eaten pie. The poor air quality rendered the color hazy brown. Ugly, like a bottom feeding fish. The moon has looked a lot better. I remember nights when you could see the halo around the full moon. Also called… a corona. And yet, corona simply means “crown.” Another time, last year, the moon was so huge and low in the sky that it seemed on a collision course with the Earth. It was similar to a sci-fi painting: otherworldly and uncanny. The stuff of prophecies. So, having seen the moon from outdoors and through my bedroom window, I was lulled to sleep by its magnetism. Perchance to dream about weird cults and people I’ve known… And now it’s time to go to the store.