Late July in South Georgia is a place of heated despair. It has been so hot for so long no one remembers the cold weather of this last winter. The ice in the pond has been replaced by stagnant and fetid water that seems on the very verge of boiling if it were just a bit hotter. A few more degrees and we could catch fish fully cooked. The shade of trees offers not the cool relief from the heat but rather an oven warm respite from the radiological blast of the sun’s direct glare. It is hot. It has been hot. It might get hotter. There is no relief in sight.
Late July is no better than halfway through the worst heat of the Summer. This is the time of Siege. This day may be the hottest ever, but you know tomorrow might be hotter still, and if that day is the hottest on record then the day after that might be, and the week after that the temperature might hit triple digits for a week after that, but today might be worse than yesterday, and tomorrow has begin and you dread it like a double date with you ex-wife and zombie with hiccups because that day might be hotter still.
And the one after that, well, yeah, it too.
Go ahead and just sheer off that part of the thermometer that reads below seventy-five or so, because the temperature isn’t dropping blow that until the middle of September, and if it does it will be right before sunup. That part of the thermometer that reads in the upper nineties you might want to just go head and magnify that a bit because that is where the mercury will be for a spell. It’s locked in now. It’s set in red hot stone. It’s going to be the way it is until it stops being this way, and you’ll tear a couple of pages off the calendar before you feel relief.
There are species out there who love this, in case you’ve missed it.
The trees are soaking up the life right now, and this is great tree weather. The rains have fallen consistently and with good measure, and the Chinaberry trees are nearly blue-green they’re so green. They appear even darker this year because the leaves are so thick it creates deep black shadows between the limbs so everything seems framed in darkness. The grass grows eleven feet a second these days and the yard needs to be mowed again before the last time is finished, and I have a small yard. Even as hot as it is the rains have kept up with the evaporation rate, so we have frogs, frogs, frogs, at night. More plant life means more insect life and that means more of everything that eats bugs. The downside is wasps eats bugs and the Wasp Wars continue as I try to keep them from rebuilding on my front porch.
But the heat is oppressive. It is suppressive. It is ubiquitously universal. It is hot inside. It is hot outside. It is hot in between. It is hot at work. It is hot at play. It is hot in the pool, in the shower, and even in a deep freezer, where they keep the heads of Disney and Ted Williams, they are now beginning to have to wipe sweat of their brows of those men because it is so hot in South Georgia.
“…penchant for hyperbole”
Someone kicked over a fireant bed onto the sidewalk the other day and the ants died before they could crawl back into the grass. They just curled up and wilted like tiny little evil blades of grass. A swarm of mosquitoes followed me into my truck and died screaming when I closed the door, trapping them in a furnace replete with a decent CD player. Their tiny blood sucking bodies lay shriveled on the dash, their Rh factors turning into a thin red smoke. It is so hot bug are melting off car windshields and windshields are beginning to droop.
The highway soaks up heat like a crocodile on the banks of the Nile. We arrive near sundown and the sun isn’t blasting away at us but we can feel the residual heat rising from the asphalt like a disease. The surface of the road is hot, and it leeches through the soles of a man’s boots like it is burrowing into his soul. The air at face level is dirty with the dust of the passing traffic, and the heat makes it feel as if we’re breathing with our faces smashed down in an ashtray full of warm water. The heat is in everything, all objects manmade that have been exposed to the sun. Machinery is hot to the touch, and sitting anywhere is to invite that diaper rash feeling after a few minutes. The world has changed fundamentally from that of a world that is full of living creatures and living things, to an underworld, where we live in the warm, moist mouth of some giant creature, who forgot to brush his teeth.
This isn’t new. As far back as I can remember this is the way late July in South Georgia felt. There are times I can breathe deeply and feel the heat searing my very soul from the inside, and I feel my body accepting this fate, as if the humidity years to assimilate the beings who are mostly water themselves. The body human adjusts to the hostile air, and it makes amends with the sun, and those of us who work outside see this as just another day in just another week, in just another July, and it is just another Summer. There is no point, and no honor, in hiding from it, and there is work to be done, besides. Those who can survive the heat in the open know they can, and know they will. Those of us who challenge it know one day we will not be able to, but not this year. Another month and another month, and we’ll see some changes, but until then, it is Summer, and it is glorious.