Wednesday, August 15, 2012


While awaiting a CD of trip-pictures from Kim, I think I’ll pause a bit in the Tale of our Trip to mention a few things I’ve been thinking of during these LONG HOT days of drought and sun.   We mention “What if we were still Down South?---We’d REALLY know what heat is.”

And we still grump about the 105 afternoons, with the hover-haze over the lawns giving a mirage-wave to the trees and umbrellas and yard-art that we see every day.   We’ve set both little blue plastic “pools” to use, with innumerable hours whiled away in the cool water---the slow, unerring pouring of cups and pans and tiny cookpots and teapots and pot lids of water from each into each, and onto the ground. Several pool-sized Fairy Rings of moss and expectant grass have  sprung up hopefully all around the yard, and though we haven’t had to have the lawn crew here in about six weeks, there’s a nice verdant patch over by the patio, where the little stream from the faucet-leak flows toward the yard.

I think often of those muggy, hazy afternoons of my
growing-up and my younger adulthood, those times when  “Shut the DOOR!” greeted more folks than “Hello,” and getting into an inferno of a car was a careful procedure---scooching onto a towel over the leather, into such stifling heat that you could feel it crackle the down on your cheeks,  letting the A/C blow into your flushed face and onto the steering wheel long enough to keep it from blistering your fingers.

That was just Summer.   Accepted, remarked on, grumbled about, and tolerated, with cold wet rags on the back of your neck, joining the kids in the dashes through the lawn sprinklers, endless sweating pitchers of ice-tea, shade where you could find it.

I think of our yards of that time, with overgrown roses higher than the house, vines which threatened to cover the windows like Sleeping Beauty’s nest, and bright floral punctuations from the color palette of Kindergarteners---true reds and blues and eye-blinding oranges and yellows.  

Mostly I remember zinnias, those big ole bright Bubba flowers, immune to drought and sun and child-pillage.  We all had bright zinnias (called ZEEN-yuz by most), and they dotted the yards of every house, from the showy flaunt of can-can skirts to poufy pastel pinecones. 

Mammaw had lots of dinner-plate dahlias, which were bigger even than the sunflowers Mrs. Prysock used to raise to feed her pet crow. 

  After a lifetime of thinking they were only “mawve,” for that was the only color we had, I was surprised to find that they come in lots of shades, even swapping their showy garb for the creamy white and approximate size of those huge mums our Homecoming dates used to pin on us at Ole Miss.

And now on that note, and with a BIG BAD Birthday coming up, I think I’ll go think awhile on being eighteen.


Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Rachel:
We simply love all of these images of big, brightly coloured zinnias which really do reflect the heat of summer.

We find it quite hot enough here, so what you describe seems to us fairly intolerable. Does one ever get used to really high temperatures and great humidity?

Southern Lady said...

Thank you for rekindling memories from my childhood, too, Rachel. My grandmother had a clump of dark purple Dahlias growing beside her back door that were as big as dinner plates ... or, at least, they seemed that big to me at the time. And I've never heard anyone call Zinnias anything BUT ZEEN-yuz. But then, I was born and raised in the South, so I guess that's why.

Beverly said...

Please tell, exactly when is that big, bad birthday. It will definitely be a special day because it is a day to celebrate you - the Rachel we all love.

I so remember zinnias. Maybe I should plant some next year. Do you think I'll remember

Kim Shook said...

I love zinnias (and grew up hearing 'ZEEN-yuzs', too! And I remember that all encompassing, enervating heat also. My grandparents didn't put AC in until I was almost grown, so the only places to get cool in town were the businesses. I spent a lot of time at the movie theatre and my grandma's office! I promise that the CD will go in the mail tomorrow.

Kim Shook said...

PS - I envy your grandmother; I've never had any luck at ALL with Dahlias.