Summer in the City
The thready fingers of heat are already rising from the city’s concrete soul. Another vapid, sullen, pedestrian summer morning grudgingly awakens. Dawn brings with it dreary dull, oppressive heat.
It’s just another smothering, nascent, smoldering summer day.
It is already too hot to move — and too muggy to breathe. I look at the tired trees through a dirty, streaked window – they look staggered and sick. Their leaves are dirty and dull – old tired trees painted a dingy dusty green. I can remember how they sparkled in the cool air of mid-April, and how their shadows stretched long and far in the decreasing slant of an amicable and warm spring sun. In spring, the nighttime came quickly and without a modicum of twilight. The sky was blue and then it was black. The nocturnal things scurried about in a panic trying to find refuge from the cold, winter-like nights of spring.
Now the days are long and the sunlight has no slant. It burns straight down. Twilights are long and it leaves living things yearning for the cool of the night that seems never to come. The sun pierces the dense shade; once-verdant meadows are brown and withered and parched. The once lush green valleys of early summer are smeared with death. They now lie cowering- burnt and lifeless. The field grass looks like rough gritty sand scattered randomly by hot acrid winds on a hellish, unearthly desert. Searing winds swirl past the stunted, lifeless growing things. The sun relentlessly drives them nearer and nearer to death. One good rain and the valley would burst forth with life anew, but no rain is coming anytime soon – even that hope has dried up.
The world looks weary and worn out – the sweat drips in drops and drips in drops and drips in drops. My spirit sinks and droops in the unrelenting undulating heat. I find no promise of autumn in the swirling swarming summer heat. I can find no respite from its relentless searing soul. I am mired in it as if in hot mud. I am surrounded by it. There seems to be no escape. I feel the life being drained from me one drop at a time. Each drop of me dripping on the ground. Dripping drops of sweat – dripping drops of me — falling on the scorched, parched sallow ground that surrounds me.
Behind my house is a bucolic wooded lane. It leads to a deep and dense forest. In the forest are the rotting remains of an old mill that once helped grind the grain that fed a small village. The miller passed on years ago and his legacy decays slowly and silently by the stream near the edge of the dense forest.
The small village that the miller fed, grew into a town. Then the town grew into the city – a city that was built upon and at the expense of a billion green and growing things. The city’s concrete structures and asphalt roads sucked the life from all the greenly… and each dusty pounding day squeezed the breath from the last of them. The green things lie rotted and forgotten under the searing, bustling city streets. The city sprawls casually, creeping noisily over all the things it killed.
I need to find something alive and growing. Sweating and breathing heavily, I open my back door and slam it behind me. As I slam the door of my house, I realize it is also the door of my life. I slam it shut so hard it shakes the windows in the kitchen and makes a sound like a firecracker exploding. I walk slowly toward the wooded lane, lined now with barely-living trees; they sag like groveling beggars, gasping in the oppressive summer heat.
I walk slowly and breathe hard, the air is too dense and sodden with moisture. It engulfs me in the sticky heat and clings to me. I am sweaty and thirsty. I yearn for the darkness and coolness of nighttime peace, as I shuffle along alone in the bright, hazy glare of the surreal seething yellow summer sun.
The shaded millpond, cool, blue and pure, awaits me like death’s sweet silence. In the moving shadows, its surface barely ripples as the stagnant and slight rustle of the breeze gently kisses it. The hazy searing sun devours any breath of air that dares to move around beneath it, squelching any nascent wind before its birth. Even the stagnant whispered breeze has been stilled. Even here, I can smell the odor of the dead things of the city: a foul, profane, and unforgiving stench.
It’s so hot. Sweat is running down into my eyes; it burns and blinds me. Amid the foul stench wafting over the glade from the city, I can barely smell the coolness of the water of the millpond. I need its soft, liquid caress. I stumble toward it heaving, squinting, and loping along the edges of the drying pines that line the edge of the limp and nearly lifeless forest.
I see the outline of the old mill. I see the old weathered, decaying, wooden waterwheel. Once it turned the grindstone that crushed the wheat into a fine white powder. Now it turns no more and no one — its rotting skeleton pocked with gray and brown. It’s a sad weathered wooden gravestone honoring an age and a spirit that has long passed. It now stands parched and forlorn and unforgiving. It no longer turns in the foamy rapids. It is frozen in the time in the heat and stands silently in the hot yellow glare of the burning morning sun.
I know I am close to the serenity of the cool, transparent, heavenly blue waters of the millpond. I can feel its coldness drawing my sweaty soul to it. I shiver in the heat anticipating the silence, anticipating the deep blue chill which awaits me in its depths.
I want it to swallow me up and hold me forever. I want to languish in its cold clarity. I want to feel its cool clear blue eternity. I want to feel it engulf me and pull me deep into its soul. The millpond is cold. blue, and silent. It is devoid of any living thing, for the pond, with the waterwheel silent, is starved of oxygen. The millpond now holds only death in the silent recesses of its eternal cold blue tranquility.
Staggering to the edge, I feel its icy fingers trembling, wrapping tightly and tenderly around my burning flesh. I feel soft, cold liquid hands enveloping me with an almost welcoming tender touch. The allure is irresistible and my desire to surrender to it is insuppressible. A single icy splash and I can feel its cold compassionate lips sweetly sucking me deep down into its cold and clear blue forever.
The sun disappears in a shimmering blue haze. I watch dreamily as it shimmers above me on the surface of the millpond.
As I sink deeper into the depths of the millpond’s eternal blue soul, the surface is now just a faint and trivial blur.
I feel myself surrendering to the heavenly cold completely, dissolving into a blissful blue peace. I float weightless and alone. Whatever I was, whoever I was, whenever I was, all now frozen forever in the eternally cool embrace of the soft sweet silent serenity.
The heat of the summer in the city has melted into the neverending silence of the icy millpond’s chilly blue forever.