Of shooting stars…

Photo courtesy of NASA

I sat on my front stoop alone last night straining to see any of the shooting stars in the sky. I don’t know if it was positioning on my part or the thin layer of cloud cover, but search as I might, none of the beautiful sky show graced my view.

I was not disappointed in my time spent on the porch though. The humidity dropped and a light summer breeze made my skin feel cool and gave music to the neighbors wind chimes. The crickets gave a gentle buzz instead of their normal shouted cacophony.  A bat or two fluttered by scooping up insects drawn by the street lamp on the corner. It was the perfect setting to as Pooh is want to say, “Think, think, think”.

Thoughts of how slowly and yet quickly the summer passed intertwined with visions of what is to come, as I listened to the starlings call out to each other. The night echoed with the summer’s first faint cries of “I’m bored” and the last plaintive whimpers of “I’m not ready for school to start” and all the voices in between those two moments.

We didn’t do anything big or go off on a extended trip like last year (see August 2011 entries). No we stayed close to home and created small, forever memories.

There was the disappointment at not being able to spend time with my daughter Nené on her 25th birthday (ye gads, 25th!). But there was comfort in knowing that we were able to speak to each other.

I loved the quiet, uninterrupted two hour conversation Bashert and I had on our anniversary (15 years, thank you). That was a gift from my Mom and sister Calico Nell who took Yoda with them on the ride down to Savannah for a visit.

I smiled at the memory of Yoda proudly piloting us out of the marina during that visit with my Aunt Spinning Jenny and Uncle Cliff Clavin. Cliff, who is not always that great with grown-ups, excels in bringing out confidence in kids. He had Yoda doing boat doughnuts in Turner Creek by the time our venture out ended.

I again marveled at Bashert’s bravery in conquering her own fears of thunderstorms in order to show Yoda that all was okay sitting on the screened porch while nature lashed all about. She held her own and we laughed and laughed, while Yoda challenged Cliff to yet another game of chess and I shared some Herman’s Hermits music memories with my sister.

Warm fuzzies surrounded me when I thought of the surprise birthday cake my Mom presented to Yoda and me that same weekend.  I love my Mom.

I relived Yoda’s birthday party of just a few days ago when stiff haired, tattooed rock stars invaded our home. Bashert slammed home another theme party with a karaoke madness/pool fête. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen five eight/nine year old boys getting down to LMAOF on plastic, blow-up guitars and keyboards. We now have enough video to grant several opportunities for teenage blackmail.

As I shifted to relieve the pressure on my bum, some sore muscles reminded me of the fulfilled birthday promise I made to Yoda. We spent the day at one of our local arcades – just the two of us. We sort of fudged his age so that he could drive the go-cart by himself. (I’d forgotten what a thrill it is to pretend to be older than you are.) The smile on his face as he zoomed past me was priceless.

That same smile lit up when he introduced me to laser tag. If you ever want a work out try half an hour of sneaking around in blacklight darkness trying to zap fast moving little kids. You automatically go into a half squat and scurry from hiding place to hiding place. Your thighs will thank you. Yoda won two out of the four games, racking up six digit points on the last round, which I found out later resulted mainly from him shooting me! I wondered where that sniper was.

As much as I had dreaded the noise and prospect of dealing with the foibles of other people’s children, I am glad we spent that day. It’s part of this summer I will never forget.

Thoughts of the coming day began to filter in after a bit. Yoda starting his first day of third grade, me returning to work, all the mundane things that need to be taken care of. I pulled my eyes from the night sky, gave a sigh and turned to go inside. Summer vacation was over.

I was saddened not to have seen a shooting star, but I believe I still gathered a pocket full of starlight. Each of this summer’s memories will act as a luminary for any dark days of struggle yet to come and will serve as beacons for the next round of times spent together. Like the song says:

“For when your troubles start multiplyin’
And they just might
It’s easy to forget them without tryin’
With just a pocketful of starlight.

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Never let it fade away
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Save it for a rainy day.”

Summertime and the livin’ ain’t easy.

Thanks, Yakir for the snap.

Three years ago about this time, I was making my way across the southern California desert riding the remnants of the Mother Road. Much of that once mighty highway is lonely lane of asphalt stretching out for flat miles with nothing on either side but sand, sparse vegetation and mountains in the distance. This time of year the road becomes a strip of bacon sizzling in the desert sun. 107℉ with spikes to 110℉ was the norm during the four hour drive.

This morning at 7am when I opened the back door to let out the dogs, I was hit in the face with that memory. Flashes of the Amboy Crater popped into my head and I half expected the backyard to be littered with bit and pieces of volcanic rock. I quickly retreated into the luxurious comfort of my air conditioned home and willed the pups to take care of business quickly.

I have lived all my adult life in the southern United States; The South where it is “sticky” from April until December. Hot, humid summers are the expected thing and we are rarely disappointed, but this summer is taking the cake. Even those who make the satirical remark, “Imagine that, Georgia hot in June?” will have to admit, it’s not just hot right now, it’s damn hot.

When I was a kid, we lived in Phoenix, Arizona (See Drowning in the Desert). The five years we spent out there showed us what western hot could be. One summer all the neighborhood kids got together and fried eggs on the sidewalk and my Mom watched the rubber seal around her car windshield melt like a slow tar river.

Southern hot is different. Put an egg on the sidewalk, it will poach. Things don’t really melt here, they stew. A second skin is a constant accessory. Once when I was in New York,  I came out of a hotel restroom stall to find a young woman looking in the mirror complaining that the humidity was ruining her curls.  I thought to myself, honey you don’t know humidity until you watch the sweat from your sweet, iced tea grow mildew on your glass.

The storms predicted for tonight and early this week don’t raise the hopes for relief. They mean a third layer of skin; insect repellant. 100% humidity and standing water and it’s party time for the insect population. We’ve already seen an increase in gnats, mosquitoes, fleas and for the first time ever in the house, tics (yes, we are combing over the animals each time they come from outside – I don’t do parasites). After the rains, we will be laying down a veterinarian recommended Spectracide®, another first.

I’m not sure what the rest of the summer will bring. There’s meteorological mumbo-jumbo about this weather pattern and that weather pattern, but anyone who lives in this area could have told you that this was to be a scorcher. Mild winters breed hot summers. That’s the way this region rolls. The mystery lies in the height the mercury will hit and the length of wave’s stay.

So place your bets, raise your umbrellas, fans, fly swatters and hem lengths to toast this first heat of summer. It’s going to be one hell of one to remember.