As if my pleas for mercy were heard, and finally answered, the triple digit heat ended with a whimper rather than a bang and a puff of dust. I had dug into bunker mentality and decided that I would go ahead and plan for another one hundred dollar electric bill, possibly much more, but I had to have some relief. Before I could sacrifice a chuck of a paycheck to the Electric Company, or a virgin ( yeah, I know, where would I find one) to the hellish heat of South Georgia, the clouds moved in, the temperature dropped, and the rains finally fell again. My windows and doors are open as I write this and it is nearly comfortable again.
I knew it was supposed to rain today so yesterday I went out and turned the mulch pile. It was dry, dust dry, bone dry, and the pile lacked any moisture anywhere but deep inside. I have six full sized sets of construction plans mixed in with the leaves and house debris, as well as two old pairs of jeans, and some cardboard boxes. The only fireants I have are in the mulch pile and it would seem the drought can kill them too. Heat, drought, and the whole world begins to dry and die. What is left living is so weak fire consumes it as if it were doused with gasoline. But it had to end, as all things do, and when the rain moved in, and stayed this time, the relief was palpable.
But this is still September and this is still South Georgia. Even though the pepper plants in the Tiny Stump Garden had stopped producing that doesn’t mean Summer is gone. This temporary break is just a tiny hiccup in the heat, and anyone who lives here knows we are very likely in for at least two more weeks of heat and some of it will be brutal. Yet the days of triple digit heat are gone, likely. The dying pepper plants tell me the light is fading. The leaves are falling. The world slips into cooler weather with Summer fighting like a dragon to hang on but once the grip is loosed then hope returns. Two or three days of cooler weather do not spell the end of the heat by any means but they do spell the end to the relentlessness of it. Mornings will begin to be cooler. Sundown means the dark of the night can be enjoyed. Gnats appear later in the day and stay not as long now. But mostly this means that we no longer live in an oven.
I took the pepper plants down with their tiny and muted fruit still clinging to the stems. All Summer long I had picked many pints of peppers and so much fruit was bore I could hardly give it away fast enough. Now the stump is barren again, and I’ll plant something else in it, an autumn garden of sorts, and see how this works out. The tomatoes look like they still have some life in them but their time too is limited. I’ll plants carrots where the tomatoes were, and again we will have to see how it all comes to be.
Last night the mutts and I listened to the rain fall and it lulled us all to sleep. It has been a very long time since a gentle rain fell for hours on end and I have missed the sound. Very late the night, a hoot owl showed up near the house and blasted away with its call. The dogs woke up, as did I, but we all just listened. Another owl landed closer to the house and the two began trading hoot secrets that echoed deep into the woods. A third landed on the house, very close to the window and suddenly there was a three part harmony of hooting, yet the dogs and I lay still in the night and the echoes of owl song, unlike that of the small birds I do realize, made their way through the woods and back again to be turned outward again. I have never heard three so close together at night like this. I can only guess the rain was filling in the low places and chasing rodents above ground to be hunted. It was impossible to sleep for the noise but it was at the same time soothing. The dogs, for reasons that escape me right now, didn’t get up to challenge their feathered foes for territory. Perhaps they too were too deep in the solace of the coolness of the night. Let those on the outside have their world for one night and allow us to rest at ease for the first time since May.
Dawn brought more rain and the dogs were hesitant to go out. I walked in the rain with them, barefoot and nearly naked. I haven’t felt cool rain like this in South Georgia for months. The oppressive heat that beat down upon us just last week was a memory now. On asphalt, the heat gets soaked into the pavement and even last at night the palm of a person’s hand can feel heat, hot and venomous, leeching back into the air. There is no residual heat here, not in the air or in the trees and certainly not in the ground. Here the earth is wet and cool, and here the air is fresh and clean. Here is an alien land to the Summer, and we have slipped beyond the grasp of the heat for a couple of days and it is delicious.
The long range forecast still show highs in the mid nineties in the next ten days but there is no sign of upper nineties and beyond. The morning lows are now in the upper sixties. That means we’re losing four to five degrees of heat in the afternoon and four to five degrees of heat in the morning as well. The sun gets up later and she goes to bed more soon. Just last week there was no end in sight and now, in the beginning of this week there is welcome sighs of relief.