It was still ninety something today, and it was muggy, like it is in the middle of Summer if not just as hot. It hasn’t rained yet this month and the yard looks like some sort of prison for wayward grasses and unrepentant weeds. It is far too dusty for me to even think about mowing. I might as well crank up a smoke generator and have some real fun. The leaves are falling now but Summer’s unrelenting grip on this part of the world hasn’t totally loosened yet. The long range forecast shows relief on the way, but it has shown that since late August, and the dryness and the humidity and the heat have held on like some life sucking animal attached to an immobile host. This is the Summer that keeps feeding upon us and feeding upon us, with the afternoons too hot to do yardwork, the yard to dry to be worked, the inside chilled only by an AC because the dust is too bad to open a window.
As bad as it is we have seen worse. In 1999 it was so dry I didn’t mow the grass for an entire Summer. The grass was crunchy and there were many people who felt this was the beginning of some new order of climate, and we would all be admiring our sand dunes in a few years. I actually looked forward to not having a lawn, which I more or less had to keep up inside the city limits lest my neighbors have even more to gossip about. There wasn’t much to talk about, I’m afraid, and I wish I could have been more entertaining. This was the year after we had some localized flooding in Southwest Georgia, and it was odd to see pieces of old logs caught up in trees during the flood, and below those marooned logs was a sea of brown grass, and dying plants. Those were some truly hot and dry days, long since past, but this is a reminder of where we might be headed without some rain, and soon. When it was so hot and dry in 2007 Georgia caught on fire and burned for weeks and weeks, and it took a tropical storm to put that fire out. But one month does not a trend make, and we will have to see if the near future looks as dry as the month past now.
The upside to all of this is there is a lot of cooler air just to the north of here colliding with the warmer air that has been here since June. The instability of the air creates a lot of friction between the two air masses and welcome back my friends to the show that never ends, thank you Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. From my front porch it looks like some World War Two artillery duel, with each side firing back at the other almost immediately. Blues flashes are followed by reddish flashes are followed by yellowish flashes and it seems to be walking to the north and to the east. There are not sharp jagged edges to these bursts of power but sky lighting shows of awesomeness that rival the sun, if for only a single split second. The trees and landscape appear as if by magic, and it would be a great literary device to use as an army of men upon the walls of a castle saw coming towards them the opposing army, in flashes that lit the sky for fractions of seconds, and the marching army saw the castle before them only for fractions of their lives, but there, in the dark, lit only in yellowish or bluish, or reddish hues, would their lives be spent.
How many people have died to the light of those flashes? How many sailors have screamed aloud at the sight of a reef, or the rugged cliffs as their ship washed steadily towards certain death, with the lighting telling the whole story in the blink of an eye? Hundreds of years ago men took to the seas with the idea of being away from home for years at a time, and many never returned. We will never know how many died out there, never to be remembered by name, but only by a writer somewhere, describing an unknown fate, accidently accurately by fate and not through skill alone, never. Good men, good sailors, and good ships have been seen by the lighting as they went down into the depths in far away waters, and have given the final flash of a salute to a liquid grave. Divers on vacation visit these places and I wonder how many of them are accurately aware that people died here, on this spot, killed by the very water that is now buoyant and beautiful and full of sunshine. The same water is black, blacker than the night, when that ship was gutted, and everyone died, screaming at the lighting, and alone.
How many promises and prayers have been offered to the lightning? How many men have beseeched their gods for some mercy rather than suffer the fate of being watched by lightning flashing overhead, while the water became deeper in the bottom of the boat? It took the Titanic two hours to sink, on a calm night, with no moon and no light. But there have been many more lost on many more boats throughout history with no mention of their lives, or loves, or fears. The flashbulb in the sky records nothing and the bottom of the sea is a cemetery. But the same can be said of the forests and the streets and the plains and anywhere else human have been. We travel a long way to die, sometimes, and no one can say why we do such things. We can only see brief moments of when and where these people have been, lit only by history, which is less, far less, than a flash of lightning in the dark.