Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hot Summer Days

The picture outside my window each morning as I sit at my breakfast table is one of a beautiful summer day waiting to be enjoyed. Here in my part of Missouri, we have had lots of bright blue skies and fluffy clouds with the trees rustling in a steady breeze. But, once outside, I am assaulted by a breeze that seems to be circulating through a blast furnace with humidity like some monster sauna.

Our record breaking heat of the last few weeks with highs in the triple digits and a heat index as high as 110 degrees has my mind working in overdrive remembering other hot summer days. Perhaps one side effect of recently having a birthday that marks me as an official old lady is my mind continually jumps to reminiscences of times past by the oddest of triggers. Something as normal as spending a few minutes outside on a hot day brings back memories of things long forgotten or things that had little impact at the time but now take on a whole new life in my head.

My dear husband, of 5 months, has on several occasions asked me to tell him what I was thinking about because he saw I was off somewhere deep in thought. Sure it is easy to talk about the joyful days and all the silly happenings of your life but, how do you explain thinking about love and loss and other emotions that cut to the center of your very being without making us both feel uncomfortable or causing embarrassment to yourself or him.

Well Frank, just so you will know here are just a few of the things I have been thinking about recently. First, I was thinking about when I was eight and five playmates and I wanted to find out if we really could fry eggs on the sidewalk. We met on the school lot one afternoon with all the eggs we could get from our parents refrigerators, only to be caught by a nun before the eggs were cooked. Besides scrubbing the entire walk, we had to spend a half hour kneeling at the communion rail in church praying to be forgiven for our sins.

Then there was the heat wave of 1984, when I became bothered by an intuition so strong I left work and made a long drive to the home of relatives, where I found them overcome by the heat and passed out on their living room floor. The ER doctor said if I had been ten minutes later one would certainly have died and the other was only minutes behind him.

I’ve also been thinking about the hundreds of miles my brothers and I walked during the summers of our youth hauling five gallon buckets of water from the house to the garden and spreading it, one tin can at a time, on each plant to keep the garden from dying because we did not have a hose long enough to reach. Then there was the hot summer day when my brothers set fire to the barn and another when a girlfriend and I snuck off to St. Louis on a date with some college boys and I ended up in the hospital with what the doctors thought was appendicitis.

These hot summer days reminded me of the time I won a speech contest in 4-H and got to make a trip to the state competition only to have one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. After sitting in the back of the auditorium for hours, listening to the other contestants give their talks, my name was finally called and I made the long trek up the aisle to the podium wondering what had the audience whispering as I passed, only to discover later that I had started my period and there was a large red stain on the back of my new white dress.

But mostly I have been thinking a lot about the surreal events of that hot August day in 1966 when I married my deceased first husband, and the even hotter days in August 1970, one when we buried my grandfather and the one two days later when I gave birth to my daughter.

Maybe I am different than most folks but hot summer days hold some of the best and worst memories for me. So I have been mulling over thoughts of everything from lazy afternoons playing in the sprinkler as a child, to hours sitting in the ER with a little brother who cut off the end of his finger in the screen door while I was babysitting as a teenager. Maybe one of these days I will actually write about a few of these events in more detail, some are quite humorous while for others I will need to be sure that the statutes of limitations have expired on some of the secrets I still keep.

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