EarthWorms Castings

by Jean Ponzi

Summer Soliloquy 2012

This summer was a scorcher — extreme, intense — devastating for some, including people, crops, wildlife, trees. And yet-living truly acclimatized to even this season’s dry, blazing ZAP — I welcome September celebrating this summer, and every summer, for all its green and growing power.

When the calendar flips to September, summer may already be over for you. Scholars, children, teachers are back in school. The blockbuster movies have all been released to achieve or flounder. Public pools have been drained, and our Zoo and Botanical Garden resume closing every day at five.

But wait! Daylight still out-lingers sunless hours. Summer officially lasts until the day and night are of equal length, on September 21, the Autumnal Equinox. Every day of summer’s reign is an opulent bonus.

Summer is my favorite season. I was born into it, and my biological clock is set so that high summer begins my yearly cycle. Curiously, as in winter, I tend to (w)hole up in summer, when extremes of weather minimize my physical energy. But in summer, climate’s barriers between “outside” and “inside” shrink as thin as possible. In the lightest of clothing I can move from the deep cool at the heart of house or office through porch to shady yard into the blazing press of mid-day heat with hardly any fuss or change of personal equipment. I can stay up and out all night, and my fur-less human survival is assured. I slow down, breathe deeply, drink water.

I live in air, not air conditioning, a very deliberate choice for me. It’s too cold, too shocking to go from freezing artificial interiors to blasting natural exteriors, and it’s too expensive — and this is summer! Hot is how it is in summer, and many fine residents of North America did fairly well, for centuries, working and playing all season without the aid of air conditioning. I grew up in air conditioning, so I’ve had that experience. Now that I control my thermostat, I experience summer. I do rely on ceiling fans, my home is blessed with air circulation, and I’m thankful I don’t live in Dallas.

The air is mechanically cooled where I work, but my energy-conscious working team moderates the HVAC so it never gets so crazy cold (like in hotels!) that a person needs a sweater. And after working hours I revel — slowly, to stay cool — in all that is summer.
This last month of summer feels like stolen moments of exquisite pleasure. I visit the library for one more fabulous hoard of recreational reading, pinch blossoms off the basil to foster yet another pesto harvest, and hang my household’s sweaters and blankets on the clothesline, out to air.

In a moment of reflection one recent Sun-day morning the joys of summer paraded through my mind with all banners waving:

  • Afternoon-long conversations
  • Bobbing in water on a turquoise Fun Noodle
  • No-sleeve shirts and air-dried hairdos
  • The sweet tang of peaches picked
    an hour before eating
  • Inhaling heated flesh with embraces,
    whether of love or casual greeting
  • Interior reality vivid from reading
  • Watching the red ball sun set at nine
    in the evening
  • Lightning bugs, fireworks, fruit salad, nail polish
  • Following shade in a zigzag path
    to work around my garden
  • Good-byes to friends bound away for the season and
    reunions with loved ones come for a visit

I shower before sleeping on hopelessly hot and sticky nights, give thanks for the cool smooth relief of skin in fanned air afterwards, all memory of prickly heat washed away. I drift on the night songs of insects trilling through my dreams, carried on moonbeams through our open screened windows.

Even now, as you are reading, you can tune your mind to enjoy more summer. And then observe the ways this Green Queen of seasons reddens, yellows, and transposes into fall — hopefully, this year, bringing deeply needed rain.

Jean Ponzi is host and producer of radio talk shows “Earthworms” on Mondays 7-8 pm on FM 88.1 KDHX and “Growing Green St. Louis” on Sundays 1-2 p.m. on the Big 550 KTRS AM.