by Linda Rodriguez
Because I have just sold my old home of 45 years and am housebound in my new one with no garden or landscaping (until I'm back on my feet next year) and, thus, am homesick for midsummer flowers, butterflies, bees, and birds, here is a post from several summers ago.
It’s the summer solstice. The sun is beating down, and air conditioners up and down my block are grumbling as they try to cool things down inside their homes and cause periodic brownouts. Hummingbirds and butterflies visit my Rose of Sharons by the back door and the scarlet bee balm flowers in the back raingarden. In that raingarden, huge clusters of white blossoms cover the three-foot-tall native hydrangea. In the front yard, purple coneflowers, butterfly bush, native and hybrid day lilies, sage, peppermint, and lemon balm are all blooming, and the honeybees, bumblebees and more butterflies flit from flower to flower, as if at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Crimson geraniums and ruby begonias sit on the front porch and steps while zinnias bloom in rainbow shades in the basement window-well boxes, visited by wasps and yellow jackets, also important pollinators, though hardly my favorites.
I don’t know how this happened. It should be just barely spring, but somehow it’s that hot, full, lazy buzzing time already. It’s been in the 90s and 100s for weeks. We’re in a drought and long for a good rain, but clouds bypass us. We’ve used all the collected water in our rain barrels on the soft potted plants—geraniums, begonias, and zinnias—but even the hardy, drought-resistant natives are wilting in this heat.
In places where the climate tosses this kind of weather at the native populace all the time, they’ve developed a siesta culture to deal with it. When the sun is hottest, when everything slows down or crawls into some shade for a nap, they go inside thick-walled houses (to keep out the heat) and rest. We who live in Anglo-European cultures, however, bustle on, as if our Puritan taskmasters were flicking their whips at our backs. “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun.”
If the globe is indeed warming and the world’s climate changing drastically, we might be wise to adopt the siesta culture during the increasingly hot weather. Plan to rise early and retire right after lunch until late in the afternoon when we’d arise again and return to work, continuing until much later at night, eating a late dinner at 10:30 p.m. and going to bed at midnight. People would have more energy, and we’d get more done. It will never happen, of course, because of those Puritan taskmasters and their whips, so long ingrained in our national DNA.
I’m finished with my blog post now, and I’m going to be smart and take a nap in a cool inside space. But first, let me wash some dishes and water those poor drooping plants and run to the post office and answer some emails and…
What’s your ideal way to handle blazing hot midsummer?
Linda Rodriguez's Dark Sister: Poems has just been released. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel, based on her popular workshop, and The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East, an anthology she co-edited, were published to high praise in 2017. Every Family Doubt, her fourth mystery novel featuring Cherokee campus police chief, Skeet Bannion, and Revising the Character-Driven Novel will be published in 2019. Her three earlier Skeet novels—Every Hidden Fear, Every Broken Trust, and Every Last Secret—and her books of poetry—Skin Hunger and Heart's Migration—have received critical recognition and awards, such as St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic Best First Novel, International Latino Book Award, Latina Book Club Best Book of 2014, Midwest Voices & Visions, Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award, Thorpe Menn Award, and Ragdale and Macondo fellowships. Her short story, “The Good Neighbor,” published in the anthology, Kansas City Noir, has been optioned for film.
Rodriguez is past chair of the AWP Indigenous Writer’s Caucus, past president of Border Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime, founding board member of Latino Writers Collective and The Writers Place, and a member of International Thriller Writers, Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers, and Kansas City Cherokee Community. Visit her at http://lindarodriguezwrites.blogspot.com