So now I can read minds
My ferns are wilting, the pond is murky, the irises are paper maché (not macho, hellcheck, not even one little bit) the lillies are ghosting us, Daisy is itchy, there are walnut fronds everywhere, and the grass needs cutting again, especially around the edges.
Also, although it’s barely July, it’s August-hot out there – and rainforest-humid – and not to plagiarize Peter Paul or Mary, but where have all the heat bugs gone?
Maybe they – the cicadas – don’t come out until August. Of course I could just google it but as I’ve said before, I’m more of a speculation kind of girl.
Cold hard facts give me writer’s block
Heat bugs are to summer what fiery maples are to fall and snow is to winter and butter is to toast, and while we’re on the subject, here’s a little jam about toast: When my youngest daughter was in grade two or maybe three the teacher asked the kids a bunch of get-to-know-me-better questions. One of the questions was “what’s your favourite food” and most kids answered “pizza” or “hot dogs” but she answered “toast” which I thought was hilarious.
What’s that buzz, tell me what’s a happening
Does anybody know who I’m plagiarizing now, because if you do, here’s some compressed watermelon, which, unlike writer’s block, is a real thing.
Heat bugs are what gives summer its buzz
They sound like a mini-alarm and it warns you that you’re going to get slammed with nostalgia so you can either brace yourself or just let it in, depending, I guess, on where it hits, how hard, and how much time you have. For me it slows things down nicely and gives me some space in which to remember, with a wash of feelings, my childhood and the lake and the sounds and smells – and I get to feel, for a flicker or two – the way it was.
All at once I remember how it feels to be underwater where it’s intense and personal and intimate. And then surfacing, treading water while spinning 360, and either heading back down or making my way to the raft, hauling myself up where everybody sort of shimmies so there’s a stripe of room for me, the warm wood on my back, the sun in beads on my eyelashes, the gurgle of water beneath us, the wild shift of the raft when somebody jumps off, the whirlpooling of a distant motorboat.
I used to hold my hand up and watch the water drops drip. Every single bead contained the entire refracted and miniature lake-world, and I could spy the familiar shape of our cottage, the dock, the place next door.
A sound from somewhere, finally distinguishable as a voice, and I’d shield my eyes and there was someone standing on shore shouting something about ice cream from between the hanging cedar limbs that gave the shoreline a dappled now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t kind of shade. The very pulse of summer.
Okay I’m back, mostly anyway
These heat bug-induced memories are like a mini-vacation and you get to hang out with your old friends, your sibs, your parents.
I thought cicadas were rare and mysterious and I imagined they would look like a kind of hard-working and tough little fairy/troll. So you can imagine my surprise when I finally saw one and it turned out to be nothing more than a very big and very buff fly with iridescent very big wings. The one that I saw happened to look like Jeff Goldblum which was coincidence I guess.
Here, finally, the reading-minds part
Maybe it’s not the lake for you. Maybe you remember the echo-y community swimming pool or kick-the-can at dusk or yelling mine in a dusty field and then the perfect thunk of a pop fly into your glove. Maybe it’s road trips where you squiggle in the back seat and think about how it would be to live in one of those trailers you see every once in a while that sit in the shade of a billboard. Maybe it’s reading Paper Moon in your back yard. Maybe it’s exploring places you’re not supposed to be – and it’s not even because you’re ignoring the dangers – it’s because the dangers don’t exist for you. Maybe it’s wacking a tennis ball against the empty school wall beside an empty school playground. Lolas. Crimson and Clover. Over and over.