Summer was our best season:
it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots,
or trying to sleep in the tree house;
summer was everything good to eat;
it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape…
~Harper Lee from “To Kill a Mockingbird”
Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.
Scout Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
How can I appreciate something
that is a constant,
like breathing the next breath,
it never registers
in my consciousness
until the moment
it might be rent asunder,
just as delicate as a web
hanging heavy with evening frost?
Within that deprivation
is the realization
that what I rely on
for my very existence
is not a given.
Suddenly it becomes
the most precious thing of all.
For that ephemeral knowledge
of our fragility on this earth,
for our dependency on our Maker,
who gives us our next breath,
I am truly and forever
Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it. Somehow, it was hotter then. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning; ladies bathed before noon, after their 3 o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frosting from sweating and sweet talcum. The day was twenty-four hours long, but it seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go and nothing to buy… and no money to buy it with.
Harper Lee (Scout narrating at the beginning of To Kill A Mockingbird)
After several days of upper 90’s temperatures, I have greater understanding for the slower moving pace of the south and other warm environs. There is not much that can be easily accomplished in humid heat other than staying in the shade and sweating. Cats sprawl like furry puddles on the ground. Dogs drip with their panting. Horses have sweat marks under their manes. And people are soft teacakes with frosting.
Those unfortunate places where the temperatures don’t drop much at night must really slow down to a crawl as attempting to sleep in a puddle of perspiration is just like constant menopause.
So we get a taste of it just to remind us what so much of the world lives with all the time, with air conditioning still being rare almost everywhere except the most fortunate affluent folk. We are meant to slow down in the summer, stop hurrying, just melt and bathe and nap and simply be.
We usually complain about how fast time passes. Summer is surely the necessary remedy.
"What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance." --Jane Austen