That’s what it is today in Falls Church, Virginia. 105 degrees.
I walked Basil, my wire haired dachshund, in the Haycock Woods at 7 in the morning. And Ben went running. It was our one and only shot on the day. We had to get it in before it was too hot to go outside. Then I went down to the farmer’s market for handmade soap, and lettuce and tomatoes (ours have finished), and for a large slab of focaccia and a dozen free range eggs. Don’t ask why, but they seemed a good idea.
Everyone in the market was wilting. The air was like an unmade bed of stale sheets. If God was in His right mind, He’d have tossed today in the bin. This one is too burnt. This one is a dud. Then He would have moved right on to another, better, fresher day.
But a young bearded man, played his fiddle on the corner of the market nonetheless, and the merchants in the farmer’s market smiled. “Stay out of the heat,” they all said.
Afterwards I went to the library and sat in an air-conditioned corner. I read Half A Life in one sitting. Then I drove back home in a melted car with my checked out book, The Finkler Question.
I sat on the scalding terrace with Alex. We didn’t know why we were doing it. Because it was there, I suppose. To experience extremity. Yesterday Alex got a mohawk and it looks quite good and his mind is full of Burning Man because he’s going to Nevada in a few weeks time, as one of the fire engineers for the Temple burn.
We sat on the wooden chaises longues watching the sprinkler water the grass. For the first time this July, the cicadas were silent. Only one was trying to get things started. He was like a party guy at a game, when everyone else is too hot or defeated to do the wave. Or else he was the guy at a rock concert trying to get people to clap together. Come on, everyone. Let’s make a noise. If we do this now, people will know forever all about the Cicadas. We will be legend!
The other cicadas were too hot to join him. They’d all lost heart. Fuck off, they said with their silence.
I had turned on the sprinkler, thinking of the grass, yes, but also of the birds. Alex and I watched it circle and splutter. “Water is amazing,” I said. “It adds so much!” And then we laughed and laughed. Call it gallows humor. I know it isn’t very funny. But a few robins at the far end of the garden emerged on the grass. “Do we dare believe our eyes?’ they seemed to suggest, as they hopped towards a mirage of sprinkled water that turned into real water. As the sun blazed down…
Then Alex and I went back indoors. We checked our email. We drank more water. We read. I ventured outside to pick basil from the garden. I made a salad which no one felt like eating. Ben came downstairs after a nap. “I keep conking out,” he said. “This is like a snow day. Except with heat.”
It was just too hot. We wanted it to end. There was nothing else for the day to do but end.