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Monday, July 8, 2013

Significant Surrender

Like many across the country in the last week, we’ve melted under the relentless blow drier of a week-long heat wave.  The gardens flopped in the sun, the black tar driveway scorched bare feet and indoors, a hot blanket of steam heat compressed our lungs.

This is coastal New England. Sure we get hot days, usually a solid row of them toward the end of July.  But most summers, by the time the sun goes down, a breeze lifts limp curtains from windows, shuffles and murmurs in the pines surrounding us, and by bedtime, sleep becomes attainable.  The second-hand air conditioner donated to us by my husband’s parents years ago, spends most seasons perched on a cinder block wall in the unfinished section of our basement.  But this long stretch of tropical nineties enticed us to lug it up and balance it in one of our bedroom windows.  Then we marched around closing the others.  It helped.
It also delivered a lesson.  You see, most summer mornings, I wake early.  Before I get up, I pull on my glasses and stare out our open back windows to where red and yellow lilies bow over granite ledge, to balloon flowers washing the air purple.  I listen to the wind ruffling the hydrangea by the window and the cheery-o of a robin as it stop-start-skitters across the inclined lawn.  But in the last few days, all I heard was the wheeze of the old air conditioner.  The view outside reminded me of a silent movie.  Birds tiptoed across the grass, the flowers bobbed, but the scene was flat and one-dimensional.   It made me think of writing.  Because, just as the view out my closed window was lacking, a scene written without considering sound, along with touch, taste, and smell as well as sight, comes up short.  When I climbed out of bed each day, I’d felt as if I’d been robbed of something dear.

An east wind brought dampness to the air late today.  I turned off the air conditioner and opened the windows.  A song sparrow trills in the distance and goose bumps pit my skin.  The fresh cut grass wafts up amid the drone of the lawn service mowing my neighbor’s yard.  A hawk flies out there somewhere, I hear his long eeeech eeeeh and the chipmunks scampering up and down our rocks have vanished. 

My view to the yard is more rich and full with the addition of these detailed elements. 

Thanks to a heat wave, I'm reminded to keep my writing windows open, too.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

We are too humid for open windows now. If you need rain, I'll send ours to you.
Glad you can connect with the world again.

Robin said...

Rich post today, Liza. As someone who is knuckling down again with the writing, I can really appreciate this one. There are so many things to take into consideration.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

What a terrific analogy! Great writing, too. I was right there, looking out the window with you...

I miss the sounds of the outdoors, too, but this time of year, Georgians pretty much need AC to survive.

Robyn Campbell said...

We've had so much rain. But I'm NOT complaining. (Our poor garden is soaked.) Either we get no rain or too much rain. *sigh* But I'm NOT complaining. Haha. It's too muggy in NC for open windows, but on the plus side, if you like to swim in the rain then we got it going on in NC. *wink* *wink* Thanks again for the prayers. (((hugs)))

Christina Farley said...

It's pretty hot here in Florida. But we are spoiled with central AC! The rest of the seasons we have our windows open and we get the scent of jasmine and orange blossoms. So lovely.

Carol Kilgore said...

Here in San Antonio, we close up and turn the A/C on between April-May. And we stay that way at least until October. Maybe that's why our birds sing so loud :)

Your view and soundtrack are both beautiful!

mshatch said...

Lovely pic of your back yard and your post reminds me how often I hear the calls of various birds through my open window as I write, the distant sound of traffic from the bridge a quarter mile away, and the daily sound of the train coming through. I won't talk about smells right now because...well..let's just say I hope it starts smelling around here soon!

Robin said...

Hey Liza,

I am not sure what you meant by comment strings that led to Here's to You posts... are people talking about the Here's to You in comments on OTHER blogs? That freaks me out a bit.

In other news, did you even see the video dedicated to YOU????

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

Surrender is the perfect word. I've noticed that heat, like many other things, is dealt with more easily when we don't try to fight it.
Good luck with the writing project. Although I enjoy writing, I'm not sure I could do so under pressure.