21 July 2012

Devil's Hatband

Hot. Hot like the hell. Another round of temperatures exceeding the 100° mark, and it looks like we are headed for 110° in the next two days or so. Folks are predicting new records for the KCMO area. I am inclined to believe them. This is heat I haven't felt for some time, and never for so long. The yard is turning into brown chaff faster than sprinklers can restore it. When I look out the window I sigh and shake my head.

"There is nothing to be done," intones the hollow voice in my head. We water, we "tsktsk", we wonder: when will it rain? Rain enough to make a difference? I grow tired of waiting.

Drought conditions persist, not enough work, water or money. August is approaching. This means I am facing ten months without an architecture job of which to speak. This means that the rain has stopped. The cisterns such as I had are swiftly draining. I can see the bottoms now, this makes me very nervous. I have lost my rain-making juju. This vexes me greatly.

The lake level has dropped, you can see the stumps now. There is baked mud where used to be pond weed and lilies, frogs and fish. The trails of dying fish can be seen in the hard grey earth of the dry bottom. They flipped and flopped, gasping for air in the heat, perhaps not comprehending their fate. I can only know by imagination what they felt. The idea of suffocating in air, gills drying out, tongue blackening, is truly unsettling. I don't know it physically. I do know it mentally. My bad dreams have shown me the path into the desert.

Grim, I know. Not the sort of thing we really enjoy discussing in polite company. I try to avoid inflicting these inner terrors on those around me, and those for whom I care. I am, as you may have noticed, not a complete success in that endeavor. Witness the words I spill for you now.

I stepped out in the heat today, on multiple occasions. There were errands to run, lunch to be had, sprinklers to be adjusted. While I was out, I saw that the flower bed at the front of the house was suffering an incursion of pesky grasses and bindweed. This was a bit much for me, having been parked in front of my computer trying to piece together some fragmented areas of my domestic life. I was in an ornery state. The agitation arising from my contemplation of the figuratively disappearing lake spurred me into action. The grasses and the weeds, they didn't stand a chance.

I ripped. I pulled. I tore out handfuls of vegetation, reveling in the discharge of energy. It felt good to flex and move. The heat made me sweat profusely, but even that felt invigorating. As is often the case, the distraction of a well-defined task allowed my mind to let go of some Stuff. This freed it up in turn to contemplate some Things. Things like that slowly evaporating lake in my mind.

If the idea of vanishing water and sun-baked stumps seemed bleak, the lower level of the lake also presented opportunities. That which was once hidden by the murky water was now coming to light again. What used to be wreckage could now be salvaged. Ideas and ambitions, hopes and fears, exposed again to the light of the day-mind. Now I could wade into the shallows and drag them back to higher ground. Something good could be reclaimed from things I believed to be lost.

Cool water splashes on my calves and back. In my peregrinations around the flowerbed, I had wandered into the arc of the sprinkler out in the yard. The shock of the water reminded me by contrast, of the heat. The mirage in my head popped out of existence and I came back to this world. The sun burned like a plasma cutter and I heard the voice of my father saying "It's hotter than the Devil's hatband out there!"

I wipe the sting from my eyes. There was curse making its way to the tip of my tongue, but I swear I could taste a little lake water there, so I bite back on the epithets. The Devil's hatband might as well be on my brow, the sweat pouring down my face in direct contradiction to the drought all around me. The drought, though, seems less threatening. It's change that creates difficulties which can be hard to overcome. Still, with change comes opportunity. The heat may brown the grass and dry the leaves, but this time I'll save the seeds I've gathered, in anticipation of the rains I know will surely come.


  1. U LIVE IN KCMO!!! I moved to Tucson from KCMO! Perhaps thats not a big deal but personally my mind right now = BLOWN.

  2. I lived in Tucson when I was 5 and a fricken Tornado hit and we had to move back to NYC...we were there for about a year...your thoughts are starting to pour out IG...diggin it. Cheers.

  3. It seems most of America is scorching under the Devil's hatband in a terrible summer that you've captured beautifully with your words.

  4. Drag 'em out, clean 'em off, let 'em live! Hoo weee!


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...