Friday, August 8, 2008

Come September.

It's nearly noon in nearly the center of August and we're coming to you live from the ANYLF WeatherDeck, and the dog is out here in her full unshaven glory, and I am, too, truth be told, and ain't neither of us panting. We of course got not one hint of rain from yesterday's cold front, but I suppose I will in fact take what we did get, which is whatever this is this morning, a pretty constant breeze with gusts I'm guessing towards 20 mph and temps here in the shade of the Japanese magnolia that have to be holding, still, in the seventies. There's no activity in the tropics and no rain in our forecast until next Thursday and we're sliding in the wrong direction on the drought severity scale. Those with agricultural concerns have got to be concerned. However: At least one of the local fancies is saying we may hit 59 degrees late tonight, and so what was supposed to be a garment-rending teeth-gnashing rainfall lamentation turns out instead to be a little song sung to the promise of autumn.

I think I get tired of summer in ways I don't get tired of the other seasons. I do not at all want to go back to school, even though yes I do get even a little teary on that first crisp fall day somewhere in mid-September, when suddenly it feels like I'm walking to class in a movie about walking to class, and I get to roll in there and shout about the virtues of the iamb, or some other such thing, or maybe I summon the ghost of Pound and get to talk about the world made new— even with all of that, I do not want to go back to school, would very contentedly ride summer out into oblivion, would stay in this extended bizarre writer's retreat for the rest of my life, if only I did not get so painfully unhappy in August. I get to the place where I feel like if the heat doesn't break soon and I can't look out on the horizon toward that first gray day of drizzle and fog and my grandfather's chili recipe, then I may commit certain minor crimes up and down the street. Bricks through windows. Flaming bags of turds on the doorstep. That sort of thing. Expressions of displeasure with the governing systems.

Maybe it's what's vestigially left of the Puritan in me that's willing to trade certain of the pain, then, of going back to my other job for those gray days. Except then there are the cool nights like the one they want to give us tonight, a free day, a strange August surprise. So maybe you don't have to hitch the difficult to the beautiful. Maybe sometimes 59 degrees arrives without sackcloth and ashes, without having to decide that the difficulty of a New England winter or a Piedmont summer is what amounts to a natural and expected reprisal for all our sins, and that if we can just bear up under the pain of this world, then some kind of bountiful reward will await us in the next.

Look: I get why the pilgrims thought they'd misbehaved, thought that sleet in May or thirty days without rain might be the rightful vengeance of an angry god. I can see how that would drag your ass down to the meetinghouse for Wednesday night services and blanket apologies. But I'm telling you this right now, friends and fans of weather: If I could get cool days and cool nights without having to work for them, I would. I would, I would, I would. And I'd do it without apology and without any sort of And also with you or Let us pray or Most merciful god we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and etcetera.

For those of you just tuning in, then: I'll surely take it for free tonight. 59 degrees. Come September, though, in the absence of any willingness on my part to pray the same prayer at the same time with a bunch of folks with buckles on their shoes, I suppose I'll be willing to go on in and yell and holler about the rhythm of dialogue in exchange for Philip Larkin's bleak beautiful weather of hats and coats. Somebody's got to do it, after all, so it might as well be me.

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